Decision Maker: Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources and the Chief Officer Commercial.
The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report which outlined the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and provided the proposed approach the Council would undertake to address financial challenges over the next 5 years. The Chief Officer added that the MTFS was a key element in the Council’s strategic planning work which supported the Council’s financial resilience and sustainability. The MTFS together with the Bridging the Gap Programme proposed the approach the Council would take to address financial challenges over the next 5 years.
The Chief Officer Resources informed that there had been a delay in the announcement of the Local Government Settlement due to the General Election on 12th December, 2019. It had originally been expected at the end of November, however the final settlement was now due on 16th December, 2019. This delay had caused implications for the budget setting process and planning the actual budget reductions to set a balanced budget for 2020/2021, however the MTFS would be revised following the announcement.
The Chief Officer referred Members to the information detailed in the report and appendices which outlined the budget gap of £16.2m over the next 5 years. Also, the progress against the Strategic Business Reviews was noted with the overall financial achievement towards the budget gap currently assessed between £5.4m and £7.9m over the period of the MTFS. The Chief Officer further noted the estimated financial achievement of the Strategic Business Reviews would result in a residual funding gap at between £8m to £10m over the next five years. However, for 2020/2021 proposals had been developed across all portfolios to mitigate funding gaps.
A Member raised concerns around the continued reduction in the budgets and felt that the Council services and frontline staff could not be reduced any further. The Member noted the Council’s commitment to prioritise Education and Social Services and had hoped that the monies provided to schools could be increased or at least maintained. The Member further reiterated his concerns around the reductions in staff and advised that the reduced budget settlements would be a concern to staff as in some cases jobs had been lost.
The Chief Officer Resources advised that job losses were a concern to everyone, however it was paramount the Authority lived within its means and spend prioritised accordingly.
The Committee AGREED the report be accepted and Option 1; namely that the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee:-
· considered and agreed the MTFS;
· noted the forecast funding gap for the period of the MTFS; and
· agreed the proposals within the Strategic Business Reviews attached at Appendix 1 of the MTFS.
Report author: Liz Thomas
Publication date: 13/07/2020
Date of decision: 05/12/2019
Decided at meeting: 05/12/2019 - Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee