Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Strategy: Council Fund Revenue Budget 2020/21


That the Committee notes the progress made.


The Chief Executive introduced the report providing the latest forecast for the Council Fund Revenue Budget 2020/21 and the work being undertaken in response to the budget gap.  Each Overview & Scrutiny Committee would receive a report on their respective portfolios to review cost pressures and efficiencies as previously shared at workshops.  At this stage, there had been no new requests from Members to explore any new areas of efficiencies.  There was insufficient time to do so for the 2020/21 budget-setting process at this late stage.


The Corporate Finance Manager provided a summary of the main changes to existing pressures along with new pressures which had arisen during the summer.  These had increased the budget gap to £16.2m for 2020/21 ahead of the Welsh Government (WG) budget.  The report also summarised over £8m of efficiencies and income identified within the four-part strategy to contribute to the gap including a working assumption of 5% increase in Council Tax which was below the level expected by WG.  This also included a projected £2m from the triennial actuarial review of the Pension Fund, which was nearing completion, following strong performance by the Clwyd Pension Fund over the past few years.


The Council was continuing to work with Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and WG in anticipation of a significant uplift in its annual Revenue Support Grant to meet the remaining forecasted gap and achieve a legal balanced budget.  Outside this, the only solutions for the remainder of the budget gap were a further review of the Clwyd Pension Fund employer contributions, the sharing of cost pressures with schools and a Council Tax increase above the working assumption.


On the national position, the allocation to WG from the UK spending review would stand.  Due to the General Election, WG had deferred announcement of its budget and Provisional Local Government Settlements to 16 December, with the Final Local Government Settlement due on 25 February and a WG final budget debate on 4 March.  In advance of these key dates, it was hoped that any intelligence available could be shared at County Council on 10 December.


Councillor Banks welcomed the report and in particular the positive outcome on the Clwyd Pension Fund actuarial review.


Councillor Roberts thanked all those involved in the cross-party working group and endorsed the comments about work continuing with the WLGA and Assembly Members to seek a positive outcome on the Settlement.


In response to questions, Councillor Heesom was advised that the social care pressures reported for 2020/21 incorporated the significant increase in Out of County Placements.  On Organisational Change, programmes of work aimed to achieve savings over the longer term, such as the Digital Strategy and Theatr Clwyd transition, and would therefore not affect the position for 2020/21.


Following concerns by Councillor Heesom about the disaggregation of services, the Chief Executive disagreed and said that the portfolio structure was working effectively and was not adversely impacted by workforce team locations.


In response to the Chairman’s query, the Chief Officer (Governance) agreed to provide clarification on the annual licensing cost for Citrix which was a key part of ICT security arrangements and agile working.


The Chief Executive provided clarification to Councillor Bateman on the additional Enforcement post to increase capacity following legislative changes on Council Tax collection.  On Councillor Johnson’s query, he confirmed that the Social Services specific grant shortfall had been included in the MTFS.


The recommendation in the report was moved by Councillor Cunningham and seconded by Councillor Johnson.


Councillor Heesom asked that he be recorded in the minutes as abstaining and noting the report.




That the Committee notes the progress made.

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