Cabinet considered the interim head of finance’s report on the budget 2021/22. The report set out the revenue budget for 2021/22, and the capital programme to 2025/26, that Cabinet was asked to recommend to Council on 10 February to approve. The report would be considered by the Scrutiny Committee on 8 February also.
The report recommended an increase in council tax of £5 for a Band D property for 2021/22. This was the maximum increase allowed under the draft referendum rules outlined in the government’s provisional settlement.
Covid-19 had played a central part in the budget. The council was likely to continue to see additional costs, and income losses in the new financial year. The figures included in the budget for these were estimates only, as no-one could predict the future course of the pandemic. The government had provided support for some, but not all, council losses.
The prioritisation of staff resources had meant that, in this budget, Cabinet had not been able to bring forward additional budget proposals to support our priorities in the new corporate plan. The report had, however, identified where existing budgets could fund corporate plan delivery activity. Deliverability of those activities would be dependent on council resources being available to progress them.
The budget report also included the medium-term financial plan for the next five years. This continued to show an increasing draw on reserves over the five year period, based on current estimates of future local government funding. This increasing use of reserves was unsustainable and officers and Cabinet would continue to review budgets in the context of the corporate plan priorities to identify ways to improve the council’s financial position.
Cabinet noted that there was a confidential appendix A.6 to the budget report, which provided background information to councillors of the breakdown of the contingency sum in the public appendix A.6.
Cabinet supported the budget proposal and thanked the Cabinet member for finance and all officers involved in producing the budget. Cabinet members were proud that they had managed to produce a budget in such difficult times without the need for budget cuts, but still allowing the council to progress its corporate plan. The budget protected residents, retained services, supported local businesses, and supported the council’s finances.
Given the uncertainty surrounding the budget, it was noted that it was possible that Cabinet might need to revisit the budget during the year, if circumstances changed.
(a) to Council on 10 February 2021 that it:
(i) sets the revenue budget for 2021/22, as set out in appendix A.1 to the interim head of finance’s report to Cabinet on 5 February 2021;
(ii) approves the capital programme for 2021/22 to 2025/26 as set out in appendix D.1 to that report, together with the capital programme changes as set out in appendix D.2 to that report;
(iii) sets the council’s prudential limits, as listed in appendix E to that report;
(iv) approves the medium-term financial plan to 2025/26, as set out in appendix F to that report.
(b) agree that the Cabinet member for finance, in conjunction with the interim head of finance, may make minor adjustments to the interim head of finance’s report and the prudential indicators, should they prove necessary prior to its submission to Council on 10 February 2021.