Issue - meetings
Council Fund Budget 2019/20 – Third and Closing Stage
Meeting: 22/01/2019 - Cabinet (Item 290)
As detailed in recommendations (1) and (2). Recommendation (3) to be amended to read:
(3) Cabinet invite Council to engage with Welsh Government – through a cross-party delegation - for an improved Local Government Settlement, in order to suppress Council Tax rises in Flintshire and across Wales, by specifically increasing recurring funding for schools and children’s services; and
An additional recommendation (4) to be added, to read:
(4) Officers provide information on those non-mandatory services where Council could review its policies and funding commitments. The information to include financial values (to the Council Tax payer) and the risks associated with making any changes to current commitments.
Councillor Shotton introduced the Council Fund Budget 2019/20 – Third and Closing Stage report. He commented on the number of Member workshops and Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings that had taken place where the portfolio resilience statements had been presented prior to the budget being approved at Stage 1 and then Stage 2.
The resilience statements highlighted the risks to service capacity and performance of any further budget reductions and they were accepted by each Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet. Each Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and Cabinet, also accepted that there was no scope for further reductions in Corporate Finance and Service Portfolios of any scale.
The Council had been central to campaigning across Wales for an improved Financial Settlement for local government through the collective case-making of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and its own press and social media-based campaign, #backtheask.
The Chief Executive explained that the Council needed to set a balanced budget to meet its legal duty – this was a collective responsibility of the whole Council. He emphasised the importance of the advice that would be given to Members by himself and the Section 151 Officer in their Statutory Officer roles.
A report would be submitted to County Council on 29th January 2019. There was a meeting on 19th February where a report could also be submitted, if required, which would be within the timescale of when a budget needed to be set by.
He reiterated that there was no scope for further reductions in cost estimates for Corporate Finance and Service Portfolios for 2019/20 of scale which had been accepted by Group Leaders, Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Cabinet and Council, and that all options of any scale had been exhausted. Whilst the funding position for local government and Flintshire had improved on the original forecast, the Settlement was still inadequate to meet the funding requirements. Beyond a further financial intervention by Welsh Government (WG) the only remaining options to balance the budget were Council Tax income and drawing upon reserves and balances, noting that the scope for the latter was limited.
The revised gap was £3.1m and to achieve a legal and balanced budget a Council Tax rise in the region of 8.5% would be required after the small utilisation of reserves which was recommended at £0.189m. The addition of the increase in the North Wales Fire and Rescue Levy would take the overall Council Tax increase to a potential 8.9%.
The Corporate Finance Manager explained the revised budget gap and provided details of confirmed grant announcements for 2019/20. He confirmed that the only options to close the gap was through reserves and balances and Council Tax, if no further funding was received from WG. He also reiterated that there was only the limited amount of reserves and balances of £0.189m that he would recommend to be used, and provided details of the prudent level of reserves that were recommended for specific purposes which were detailed in the report. ... view the full minutes text for item 290