Issue - meetings
Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and Council Fund Budget 2022/23
Meeting: 13/07/2021 - Cabinet (Item 18)
As detailed in the recommendations.
Councillor Johnson introduced the report and explained that the Council reviewed and updated the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) annually, and in advance of planning the annual budget for the following financial year.
The updated forecast showed that the Council would likely have a minimum budget requirement of an additional £16.750m of revenue resources for 2022/23.
This was the first stage of developing the budget for 2022/23. During September and October, the Overview and Scrutiny Committees would be invited to review the cost pressures, and the opportunities for cost control and efficiency, under their respective terms of reference.
Once the work was complete, the Council would be in a strong position to communicate to Governments, local partners and stakeholders and the public how a legal, safe and balanced budget might be achieved for 2022/23 and what would be required for national funding through Revenue Support Grant (RSG). Engagement was already taking place with the new Welsh Government (WG) through the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA).
Members were aware that whilst some cost savings and efficiencies could be identified as part of the annual budget setting process, there were no cost savings of any scale remaining following a decade of under-funding of local government.
The Council had rightly stood on the principle that it would not reduce the budget for any service to the point where the service was unsafe or to do so would mean the Council would fail to meet its quality standards and/or fail to meet its statutory duties.
The Council had also taken a stance that annual rises in Council Tax should not exceed 5%. That figure was to be treated as a maximum and not an entitlement to raise local income. Council Tax was at risk of becoming unaffordable for an increasing minority, and the Council believed that the responsibility for full and fair funding for local government needed to sit with Governments and not local taxpayers. Therefore, the Local Government Settlement for 2022/23, set and funded by WG, needed to be sufficient.
Councillor Roberts thanked the finance team for dealing with the finances in the way they did, including for the care and attention shown to residents who had been able to make payments to the Council.
The Corporate Finance Manager explained that Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee supported the budget estimate but requested that a review of service balances also be undertaken. The Committee also encouraged all other Overview and Scrutiny Committees to take a rigorous approach.
(a) That the additional budget requirement be received and notes, and that feedback from Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee be received;
(b) That the cost pressures be referred to Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee in September/October for review; and
(c) That the solutions available to meet the cost pressures be noted, and the funding strategy for 2022/23 be re-set.