Issue - meetings

Council Fund Budget 2018/19 – Third and Closing Stage

Meeting: 20/02/2018 - Cabinet (Item 128)

128 Council Fund Revenue Budget 2018/19 – Third and Closing Stage pdf icon PDF 197 KB

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(a)       That following a review, £1.927m of reserves and balances is released to contribute to balancing the budget;


(b)       That a 5% rise in Council Tax is set to balance the budget in combination with reserves and balances in (a) above; and


(c)        That a further rise in Council Tax of 1.71% is set to provide additionality of £1.140m specifically for schools budgets.


The Chief Executive introduced the Council Fund Revenue Budget 2018/19 – Third and Closing Stage report and explained the Council needed to set a balanced budget to meet its legal duty.


            It was the collective responsibility of the whole Council to set the budget on the advice of Cabinet and the options remaining to achieve a legal balanced budget were outlined in the report.  He explained that the scope for further service reductions for this financial year had been exhausted and portfolio resilience statements, which demonstrated the risks to service capacity and performance of any further budget reductions, had been accepted by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet.


Beyond a financial intervention by Welsh Government (WG), the only remaining options to balance the budget were Council Tax income and drawing upon reserves and balances.


The Corporate Finance Manager explained that the financial impact of both Stages One and Two were detailed in Table 3 in the report and having taken both into account, the remaining budget gap was £5.771m.


On reserves and balances, he said that compared to many other councils, Flintshire had modest and limited reserves to call upon.  In addition, reserves could only be used once and an over-reliance on their use to balance annual budgets was not a sustainable way of funding services.


The Council had limited un-earmarked reserves to draw upon with the Month 9 budget monitoring report projecting a Contingency Reserve at the end of March 2018 of £4.174m.  However, that was subject to change between now and the close of the financial year. 


The Council also held earmarked reserves which were set aside for specific purposes.  The month 9 budget monitoring report provided an update on current projected levels of earmarked reserves and showed that the amount was likely to reduce from £20 to £10m by the end of the financial year.  A review of the remaining earmarked reserves had been completed and only those which had a strong business case would be retained with the remainder being released for use as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).  The total amount recommended to be released to assist with setting the budget for 2018/19was £1.927m.  It was the advice of the Corporate Finance Manager that with the use of the earmarked reserves and setting the Council Tax at 5%, a balanced budget could be set.  An illustration of the contribution to the budget from a range of Council Tax options was outlined in table 4 of the report.  A comparison of Council Tax levels across Wales was appended to the report.


Councillor Shotton commented on the number of years that had seen local government grants reduced which affected services, including Social Care and Education.  The challenge now was which options could be drawn upon for Members to balance the budget.  He welcomed the support that had been received from head teachers, governors and the community on the position for schools funding which was helping to raise public awareness of the situation.  On  ...  view the full minutes text for item 128