A report from the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services is attached. This seeks approval, for recommendation to full Council, of the Budget 2015/16 and Medium Term Financial Plan (General Fund). This report should be read in conjunction with Report No.166, agenda part two refers. (Key decision – reference number 3957)
Note: The appendices marked “to follow” will be circulated to Members as soon as possible.
(8.20 – 8.30 pm)
Councillor Andrew Stafford (Cabinet Member for Finance) introduced the report of the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services (No.158) presenting the Budget 2015/16 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2015/16 to 2018/19 (General Fund) for recommendation to full Council for approval.
1. That the attention of Members was drawn to the comments in paragraph 2.11 of the report regarding S106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 which required any Member who was two months or more in arrears on their Council Tax to declare their position and to not vote on any issue that could affect the calculation of the budget or Council Tax.
2. That Report No.166 also referred as detailed in Minute No.23 below.
3. That an amendment sheet to the report had been circulated. In the final Government budget settlement for 2015/16 published on 3 February 2015, the reduction in Revenue Support Grant (RSG) had not been as high as forecast. The expected RSG was £58.811m and the final amount confirmed was now £59.325m, a difference of £0.514m. This sum would be placed into contingent items and a decision could be made as to its utilisation as part of the 2015/16 revenue monitoring process. The changes to the tables in the report had been set out for Members and would be reflected in the report to Council. The amendments referred to the tables in the following sections of the report: 5.3, 7.2, 8.3 and 10.3.
4. Councillor Stafford highlighted for Members the progress in setting the budget for 2015/16 and the medium term financial plan; the level of savings which had been achieved from 2010-2014; and, the level of savings predicted from 2015-2019. The report proposed no increase in the level of council tax for 2015-16. The implications of reductions in Government grant funding to the Council was identified.
5. Members’ attention was drawn to the continuing risks and pressures impacting on the Council’s budget as set out in full in the report. Section 11 of the report set out the budget risks, uncertainties and opportunities.
6. Councillor Stafford highlighted section 10.6 of the report setting out the views of the Local Government Association; and those of the National Audit Office as reported in section 10.10 of the report.
7. The report set out proposals for a balanced budget for 2015/16.
8. The detailed capital programme as set out in the report, section 9 and Appendix 9 of the report referred. The impact of the recommended capital programme was reflected in the current borrowing requirements set out as Prudential Indicators, detailed in appendix 4 of the report.
9. The contingencies and general balances as set out in section 12 of the report. The levels proposed were appropriate and prudent. The level of borrowing would continue to be closely monitored. The proposed budget was robust, as detailed in the report.
10. The consultation that had taken place on the budget and the comments that had been received. These comments had been taken into account when setting out the proposed budget for 2015/16.
11. In conclusion, Councillor Stafford noted that a balanced budget was proposed with a 0% increase in the level of council tax and an extensive capital programme.
12. Councillor Ahmet Oykener highlighted the increasing pressures on housing provision, particularly in light of the Government’s recent announcement to cut the discretionary housing payment by 40%. The demand for housing in the Borough was continuing to rise. Councillor Oykener detailed the pressures faced in the provision of temporary accommodation and the increasing costs being faced.
13. Councillor Taylor noted that Westminster Council had bought a number of properties in outer London boroughs for the provision of temporary accommodation as property prices were cheaper than in Westminster. This however, impacted negatively on the outer London Boroughs seeking to provide housing provision in their Borough. Councillor Oykener would continue to lobby appropriate Government Ministers with regard to the difficulties faced in providing adequate housing provision to meet growing demands.
14. Councillor Chris Bond stated that the budget proposals in the report did not include any proposed changes in the collection of waste or the provision of street lighting in the Borough.
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 had greatly contributed to this report including information from the Budget consultation set out in the report. As part of its planning for both 2015/16 and future years the Council had considered future levels of Council Tax. Savings had been identified to enable a Council Tax Freeze to be delivered in 2015/16.
RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL
1. With regard to the revenue budget for 2015/16
(a) To set the Council Tax requirement for Enfield at £100.917m in 2015/16.
(b) Subject to final pupil count data, approve expenditure of £307.837m in 2015/16 for the schools’ budget, funded from the Dedicated Schools’ Grant.
(c) Set the Council Tax at Band D for Enfield’s services for 2015/16 at £1,100.34 (as detailed in paragraph 8.1 of the report), there being no increase over the 2014/15 Council Tax.
(d) Approve the statutory calculations and resolutions set out in Appendix 10 of the report.
2. With regard to the Prudential Code and the Capital Programme
(a) Note the information regarding the requirements of the Prudential Code (as set out in section 9 of the report)
(b) Agree the Approved Capital Programme for 2015/16 to 2018/19 as set out in Table 9 (appendix 9 of the report). Also to note the Indicative Capital Programme and agree that these indicative programmes be reviewed in the light of circumstances at the time.
(c) Agree the Prudential Indicators, the Treasury Management Strategy, the Minimum Revenue Provision statement and the criteria for investments set out in section 9 and appendices 4 and 5 of the report.
3. With regard to the Medium Term Financial plan to note the forecast for the medium term as set out in section 10 of the report and adopt the key principles set out in paragraph 10.13 of the report.
4. With regard to the robustness of the 2015/16 budget and the adequacy of the Council’s earmarked reserves and balances:
(a) Note the risks and uncertainties inherent in the 2015/16 budget and the Medium Term Financial Plan (sections 10 and 11 of the report) and agree the actions in hand to mitigate them.
(b) Note the advice of the Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services regarding the recommended levels of contingencies, balances and earmarked reserves (section 12 of the report) and have regard to the Director’s statement (section 13 of the report) when making final decisions on the 2015/16 budget.
(c) Agree the recommended levels of central contingency and general balances (section 12 of the report referred).
5. That the Cabinet Members for Education, Children’s Services and Protection and Finance take the decision on the schools budget for 2015/16 taking into account the comments of the Schools Forum on 4 March 2015 and any relevant decisions which the Forum make under the DfE regulations in Section 5.9 of the report.
6. Agree the Fees and Charges for Environmental Services for 2015/16 (Section 10.16 and Appendix 12 of the report referred).
7. Agree the Fees and Charges for Adult Social Care Services for 2015/16 (Section 10.17 and Appendix 11 of the report referred), subject to consultation.
8. That the New Homes Bonus be allocated to maintain regeneration and homelessness services (paragraph 5.7 of the report referred).
9. To approve the continuation of the existing policy for the calculation of Minimum Revenue Provision (section 9.16 of the report referred).
Reason: To set the Council’s Budget Requirement and level of Council Tax for 2015/16 within the timescales set out in legislation. To agree the Treasury Management Prudential Indicators and the Capital Programme for 2015/16.
(Key decision – reference number 3957)