Issue - meetings

Council Fund Budget 2019/20 – Third and Closing Stage

Meeting: 29/01/2019 - Flintshire County Council (Item 89)

89 Council Fund Budget 2019/20 – Third and Closing Stage pdf icon PDF 75 KB

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(a)       That a decision on the budget be deferred for 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;


(b)       That officers look into the possibility of utilising earmarked reserves that were not protected in 2018/19, to be used in 2019/20, totalling £1.3m;


(c)        That officers look into the possibility of capital receipts being utilised to fund the Minimum Revenue Provision charge to release revenue funding; and


(d)       That requests for further information would be dealt with at a briefing for Members which would be arranged prior to the County Council meeting on 19th February.


The Chief Executive introduced the Council Fund Budget 2019/20 – Third and Closing Stage report to which the Cabinet report of 22nd January 2019 was appended.  Additional information had been circulated to Members the previous day, following a request at Cabinet, on the non-mandatory services which could be at risk if no additional funding was forthcoming from WG, and the Council Tax equivalent of those services.


The Chief Officer (Governance) explained that it was the collective duty of Council to set a legal and balanced budget.  He explained the importance of not overloading the budget with risks and that any proposals put forward would have to have realistic timescales and be deliverable, with sufficient finances set aside for main risks.  He concluded with the need for Members to listen to the advice from the statutory roles of the Section 151 Officer and the Chief Executive in advising the Council.


The Chief Executive and Corporate Finance Manager delivered a presentation which covered the following areas:


·         Setting a legal and balanced budget;

·         Updated forecast for 2019/20;

·         Stage 1 – Corporate Budget Solutions;

·         Stage 2 – Portfolio Business Plan Proposals;

·         Final Settlement;

·         Other changes to the forecast 2019/20;

·         Impact of grant announcements;

·         Summary of revised forecast;

·         Remaining options and possibilities;

·         Reserves and balances;

·         Types of reserves;

·         Managing the in-year 2019/20;

·         Prudent level of reserves for 2019/20;

·         Council Tax;

·         Potential Council Tax rises in Wales 2019/20;

·         Council Tax (Band D) comparators 2018/19;

·         Council Tax indicative comparators 2019/20;

·         Council Tax indicative Welsh comparators 2019/20;

·         Schools and Social Care budgets;

·         Schools funding 2019/20;

·         Social Care funding 2019/20;

·         Professional opinions;

·         Future outlook;

·         Medium term forecast;

·         #backtheask;

·         Update from the AMs and MPs meeting;

·         Budget scenarios; and

·         Next steps and timelines.


The Chief Executive said the options remaining to achieve a legal and balanced budget were outlined in the Cabinet report.  The scope for further service reductions for this financial year of any scale had been exhausted, and the portfolio resilience statements which demonstrated the risks to service capacity and performance of any other budget reductions had been accepted by Overview and Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet.  A number of Member workshops had also been held.  He commented on the implications of potential suggestions at this late stage including workforce and trade union relationships.  Any new decisions would take time to implement and could not result in immediate or sufficient savings for the 2019/20 budget year as a consideration in balancing the budget.


The position of the specific requests made to Welsh Government (WG) for financial assistance was detailed in the report.  Beyond a financial intervention by WG the only remaining budget options to balance the budget were Council Tax income and reserves and balances, with the scope for the latter being limited.  The Corporate Finance Manager provided an explanation of the proposed prudent level of reserves he was recommending to be held to mitigate the impact of the factors outlined in the report.  Based on the analysis in the report, there was only a relatively small  ...  view the full minutes text for item 89