Agenda item

Budget Consultation process


            (a)       That the update be received; and


(b)       That the Leader be thanked for the update. 



The Leader of the Council explained that workshops to provide Members with details on the budget proposals were being arranged ahead of the formal budget setting process.  He suggested that the workshops take place during week commencing 27th October 2014 but appreciated that this was school holidays and may not be convenient for some Members.   


                        Details of the settlement had been received the previous day and the reduction for Flintshire County Council was 3.4% which was in line with the Welsh average.  This meant that there would be a budget gap of £16.4m.  He referred to the work that needed to be undertaken based on demographic and statutory pressures and referred to discussions earlier in the year with the Minister, who had indicated that the reduction in funding could be as high as 4.5%.  The Leader commented on the pressures for Supporting People and Education along with a cut in the Sustainable Waste Grant of 3%.  A briefing note was being prepared for all Members which would provide a breakdown of what the reduction meant for Flintshire.  He felt that it was important that the workshops took place as soon as possible.  He commented on the costs for subsidising of bus services and social care for the elderly and vulnerable. 


                        The Leader explained that departments had been asked to plan for a  30% reduction in funding over three years and it was anticipated that the pressures on service areas would continue.  He referred to the ringfencing of budgets for health care and in referring to a report by the Nuffield Trust, said that it was important for the authority to commission its own report on the pressures being applied to social care.  He provided details of the cuts in funding for leisure, libraries and social care if the 30% reduction was undertaken and said that ringfencing some budget areas could result in larger than 30% reductions in other areas. 

                        The Chief Officer (Governance) advised that a Group Leader’s meeting would be held during week commencing 20th October 2014 to provide more details on how the work would progress.  It had been suggested that the budget workshops would be allocated during week commencing 27th October and 3rd November 2014 to outline the approach and proposals so far.  The formal Overview & Scrutiny budget process would take place during December 2014 or January 2015. 


                        The Chair proposed that the workshops be held during the half term holidays and this was duly seconded. 


                        Councillor Clive Carver sought clarification on the ‘black hole’ referred to in the press.  He also asked about the Flintshire Shuttle Bus and whether it worked exclusively for Flintshire County Council.  The Leader explained that it was a demand led service and that he would provide a response to Councillor Carver following the meeting.  He added that he had not referred to the ‘black hole’ when providing a comment for the media.  He spoke of the 3.4% cut and the pressures of increased costs, which were unprecedented, and said that further details would be provided to Members in the workshops. 


Councillor Joe Johnson asked about the Sustainable Waste Grant and the Finance Manager agreed to provide a response following the meeting. 


In referring to the Big Budget Conversation, Councillor Robin Guest commented on the low response rate and asked whether any useful suggestions had been put forward by those who had replied.  The Leader explained that information on the results had been sent to Members but added that it was difficult to quantify the responses at this stage.  Approximately 10,000 had viewed the survey and 700 had provided a response and these would be considered as part of the budget workshops and meetings to scrutinise the budget proposals.  Over the past three years, £33m savings had been made but the impact of this had not yet been felt by services.  The Leader explained that this could not continue and difficult decisions would have to be made. 


Councillor Ron Hampson said that it was important that the public were aware of the scale of the cuts in funding.  He also referred to inflationary pressures.  The Leader responded that pay inflation negotiations were undertaken nationally and did not form part of the settlement figure.  He added that a 1% pay increase would result in an additional pressure of £1.6m.               




            (a)       That the update be received; and


(b)       That the Leader be thanked for the update.