A report from the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services is attached. Thisseeks approval, for recommendation to full Council, of the Budget 2014/15 and Medium Term Financial Plan (General Fund). (Report No.186, agenda part two also refers) (Key decision – reference number 3764)
(8.20 – 8.30 pm)
Councillor Andrew Stafford (Cabinet Member for Finance and Property) introduced the report of the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services (No.178) setting out the Budget 2014/15 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2014/15 to 2017/18 (General Fund).
1. That Report No.186 also referred as detailed in Minute No.21 below;
2. The significant level of savings that had been achieved by the Council in the previous four years and the proposals for the next four years as set out in the Medium Term Financial Plan. It was anticipated that further savings of approximately £60m would be required. The financial outlook was uncertain despite initial signs of some economic growth.
3. That it was proposed that there be no increase in the level of Council Tax for 2014/15 as set out in the report.
4. The extensive consultation undertaken which had included Scrutiny Panels and Area Forums as referred to in section 4 and Appendix 1 of the report.
5. The budget pressures set out in section 7 of the report.
6. The recommended capital programme 2013/14 – 2017/18 as detailed in section 9 and Appendix 5 of the report.
7. The Medium Term Financial Plan as set out in section 10 of the report. In particular Members’ attention was drawn to paragraph 10.10 of the report. The Council was determined to deliver cashable savings that kept Council tax low whilst at the same time maintaining or improving the quality of priority services wherever possible. However, it also recognised that efficiency savings were not inexhaustible and continuing reductions to public sector funding made cuts to services inevitable.
8. Appendix 8(a) of the report providing a Statement of the Section 151 Officer on the robustness of budget estimates and adequacy of the reserves. The external auditor’s review of the Council’s arrangements had concluded that all areas were assessed as “green” with no cause for concern and that the Council had adequate arrangements in place for achieving financial resilience.
9. Councillor Charalambous proposed an amendment to recommendation 2.10 of the report. It was noted that not all Wards had spent their complete funding allocations from the Enfield Residents’ Priority Fund for 2013/14. Councillor Charalambous requested that the funds be carried over the next financial year rather than returned to general balances as proposed in the report. The recommendation to Council be amended to reflect this change, as detailed in decision 10 below.
10. Councillor Orhan expressed concern regarding grant damping, as set out in section 5.6 of the report, and the detrimental effect on the Council’s budget. Enfield was calculated as needing over £134m in 2013/14 but the damping system reduced this to £123m resulting in £11.6m of Enfield’s calculated funding being damped away to finance other authorities. The Council continued to raise this issue with the Government at every opportunity.
Alternative Options Considered: The Council had an extensive budget planning and consultation process during which a wide range of options were considered in detail before recommendations were made. Issues raised and discussed ... view the full minutes text for item 6