Issue - meetings
Council Fund Revenue Budget 2020/21
(a) That the updated forecast for 2020/21 be noted. The forecast included the cost pressures which had been reviewed and endorsed by the respective Overview and Scrutiny Committees;
(b) That the completed first stage of solutions to meet the budget requirement which totalled £8.164m be noted. The specific service portfolio and corporate financing solutions had been reviewed and endorsed by the respective Overview and Scrutiny Committees (the first stage of solutions includes a provisional Council Tax rate of 5%. The level of Council Tax was a reserved matter for full Council and would not be decided until the February meeting. The recommended level of Council Tax could vary depending on the budget requirement outstanding at the final stage of the budget);
(c) That the arrangements for the announcement of the Provisional Welsh Local Government Settlement be noted;
(d) That Council notes the limited range of local options which were available to reach a balanced budget alongside the outcome of the Settlement;
(e) That the timetable for the closing stages of the annual budget setting process be noted; and
(f) That thanks be expressed for the work undertaken by those involved in the Clwyd Pension Fund Committee for the tremendous achievement in bringing the funding up to the level they have.
The Chief Executive introduced the Council Fund Revenue Budget 2020/21 report which set out the following:
· the latest local financial forecast for 2020/21;
· the work to date to develop and agree local solutions to meet the projected ‘gap’ in the budget requirement for 2020/21 within the forecast;
· the arrangements for and expectations around the Welsh Government Budget and the Provisional Local Government Settlement which were due to be announced in tandem on 16th December;
· the remaining local options to achieve a legally balanced budget for 2020/21 alongside the Settlement; and
· the timetable to complete budget closure by March 2020.
Since publication of the report, the final two Overview and Scrutiny Committee consultation meetings had been held and an updated appendix had been provided to Members which detailed the responses of each of the six Overview and Scrutiny Committees. Each Committee had received a breakdown of the cost pressures by service portfolio. It was emphasised that there was nothing being presented to Members, following the more recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings that was different to the recommendations before Council.
Table 1 of the report provided the latest financial forecast which had been revised to take into account changes to the pressures included in the original April forecast and new pressures which were not previously known or fully understood and calculated. The impact of the changes had been to increase the budget gap by £0.181m to £16.355m at December.
The solutions available to the Council to balance the 2020/21 budget had been grouped as follows:
· National Funding;
· Portfolio Business Plans and Corporate Finance;
· Local Taxation and Income; and
· Organisational Change.
The Corporate Finance Manager commented on the annual teachers’ pay award and said it was the Council’s expectation that Welsh Government (WG) should pay for the 2020/21 pay award in full. On that basis, the forecast could be adjusted by £0.726m to a revised figure of £15.629m. Confirmation would be sought from WG on their plans for annual pay awards between now and the final stage of budget-setting.
He provided full details of portfolio business plan efficiencies and income, corporate finance efficiencies, local taxation and income and organisational change.
A combination of corporate finance portfolio efficiencies and income, the income derived from an indicative level of Council Tax increase, and the ‘dividend’ from the actuarial review of the Clwyd Pension Fund summarised in the report would generate a significant contribution to the budget of £8.164m.
The only remaining local options which could be reviewed to build on the contribution, dependent on the outcome of the WG budget were (1) further review of the Clwyd Pension Fund employer contributions in liaison with the Fund Actuary; (2) sharing of schools cost pressures with schools themselves; (3) a limited set of other corporate finance provisions such as the Council Tax predicted yield and Single Person Discount recovery rates; (4) a reduction in the provision for the uplift in commissioning fees for social care providers as annual negotiations continued; and (5) a higher level ... view the full minutes text for item 78