Agenda item

Revenue Budget 2021/2022

To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.




Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources.


The Chief Officer Resources gave a detailed overview of the report which had been presented to provide an update on the positive provisional local government settlement for 2021/22 and its impact upon the Council’s budget. The report also outlined the proposed detailed revenue budget for 2021/22 and the proposed level of Council Tax increase for the 2021/2022 in line with the Medium Term Financial Strategy assumptions.


The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report and outlined the National Position, Blaenau Gwent’s position, the cost pressures and growth items along with the Bridging the Gap Programme. The Chief Officer Resources referred to costs pressures anticipated with Covid-19 and advised that there was an assumption that these cost pressures would continue to be funded by Welsh Government, it was expected that confirmation of Covid funding would be announced as part of the Welsh Government’s final budget in March 2021.


The Chief Officer Resources further referred to the budget consultation which was currently ongoing and advised that to date there had been 170 responses all of which had agreed that Education, Social Services and the Environment should be the focus for budget in Blaenau Gwent. The majority of respondents agreed with the proposed increase in school budgets, however there was concern around the proposed 4% increase in Council Tax. The consultation period was still open and feedback would be reported at Full Council on 4th March, 2021.


The Chief Officer Resources informed that the report and been considered at length by the Joint Scrutiny Committee and most of the recommendations had been agreed. However, the Joint Scrutiny Committee proposed that the Council give consideration to a lower level of increase in Council Tax and the associated impact on the Council’s budget.


The Leader wished to thank the Resources Team and budget holders on behalf of the Executive on the immense work undertaken on the budget. It placed the Authority in a position where politically we support your aims, ambitions and aspirations which would translate to the communities in Blaenau Gwent.


The Leader felt that setting a budget was no easy task and this budget and future budgets would be done in a different way to what traditionalists envisaged, however going forward this way was effective in setting the Council’s budget.


The way in which the budget was now set allowed for forward thinking on what the Authority could face and how the Authority would meet those challenges. This budget was a good demonstration of that work and showed the need for the officers responsible for the various areas of bridging the gap schemes that the emphasis of this work going forward to 2022/23 and beyond should not be underestimated.


The Leader had hoped that the Authority could come out of the pandemic looking at newer parts of the Bridging the Gap project which provided alternative arrangements which would assist the Authority on how budgets would be constructed in the future.


The Leader was pleased to see the level of public feedback and the priorities mentioned are the priorities of this administration. The pandemic had put the Authority back a pace in terms of consultation as it was understandably a muted exercise. In normal circumstances the Executive and Corporate Leadership Team would have gone out into communities to physically consult in town centres, supermarkets and community centres. The Leader noted that he had missed these opportunities as it allowed the Council to provide reasons for the way in which certain things needed to be done, however he had hope that this could be done before the end of the year.


With regard to the proposed 4% increase in Council Tax, the Leader advised that this was the marker put down in MTFS as the previous figure was unachievable and the Authority always needed to go in excess of the previous target. This target gave a baseline to set a balanced budget and was agreed by Council.  The Leader fully understood some of the views raised at Joint Scrutiny Committee and concurred that the Council Tax increase should be lower than the proposed 4% increase. It was stated that the proposed increase would be discussed fully at Full Council on 4th March, 2021.


RESOLVED that the report be accepted and Option 1; namely


a)   the Executive recommend to the Council the 2021/2022 revenue budget as detailed in the report;


b)   the Executive provided comments on the outcomes within the overall provisional RSG Settlement and note the potential for further change in the Final RSG Settlement;


c)   the Executive provided comments on the outcomes within the BGCBC provisional RSG Settlement and its impact upon the Medium Term Financial Strategy;


d)   the Executive considered and recommended to Council the cost pressures and growth items (£2.074m in total) identified in Appendix 3 for inclusion in the Council’s budget;


e)   the Executive considered and recommend to Council an uplift of £1.472m which equates to a net 3.3% increase to the ISB. This reflects a gross uplift of 3.6% (which incorporates the Teachers pay grant transferring into the settlement of £84,000) adjusted for a £150,000 reduction in demographics;


f)     the Executive considered and recommend to Council that any achievement of Bridging the Gap proposals which exceeds the in-year budget requirement be transferred into an earmarked reserve to support medium term financial planning, specifically for the later years of the Medium Term Financial Strategy; and


g)   the Executive considered comments from the Joint Scrutiny Committee and recommend to Council that a Council Tax increase below the proposed 4% for 2021/22 be discussed and approved at Full Council on 4rd March, 2021.


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