A report from the Director of Finance is attached. (Report No.172 agenda part two also referred). (Key decision – reference number 4744)
(7.30 – 7.40 pm)
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Director of Finance (No.160) proposing the general revenue budget and council tax for the 2019/20 financial year.
1. That Report No.172 also referred as detailed in Minute No.19 below.
2. That the budget was being set within difficult financial circumstances with continuing Government funding cuts and further savings of £18m being sought next year. The budget proposals were realistic, robust, delivered on the Council’s priorities and sought to protect the most vulnerable residents in the Borough.
3. The detailed summary of the recommendations as set out in section 1 of the report. The proposals were the culmination of the 2019/20 budget planning process. The report included details of the Local Government financial settlement for Enfield, the cost pressures faced and, made recommendations regarding the Schools’ budget.
4. That the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy and Capital Strategy and 4-year Capital Programme were contained in separate reports as detailed in Minute Nos. 6 and 7 below.
5. The recommendations made within the report regarding the appropriate level for the Council’s contingencies, balances and earmarked reserves. It was important to ensure that reserves were maintained at an acceptable level and a responsible approach taken.
6. The detailed proposals contained within the report and its appendices, including budget allocations to assist the most vulnerable for example, for the Council Tax Support Scheme; the Concessionary Fares Scheme; and, for Children’s Services.
7. The national context and local government finance settlement set out in section 3 of the report. The settlement confirmed real term cuts to Settlement Funding Assessment of 6.5% across London and nationally in 2019/20 and cumulative real terms cuts to core funding of 63% across London between 2010 and 2020. Members noted the increasing financial pressures being faced and, the significant work undertaken by Cabinet Members and senior officers in minimising the negative effects of further saving requirements on the Borough’s most vulnerable residents. Pressures were increasing on local government service provision at a time of continuing Government funding reductions. Further savings of £18m were required in 2019/20.
8. Members expressed their appreciation to Councillor Maguire and acknowledged the vigorous scrutiny of the Council’s budgets that had taken place. Efforts were being made to maximise the Council’s income generation.
9. The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee budget meeting held on 31 January 2019 which were tabled at the meeting. The scrutiny process had been thorough.
10. A discussion followed on the budget proposals and comments made as summarised below. The hard work of both Cabinet Members and Officers was recognised and praised in the delivery of the budget which sought to minimise the impact on the Borough’s residents.
11. Members’ continued frustration at the level of Government funding cuts and the historical fair funding argument through which Enfield and other Outer London Boroughs’ formula funding was disproportionately low to the detriment of Enfield residents. Such funding issues were becoming increasingly challenging and negatively affected the Council’s continued ability to deliver the services required.
12. The issues relating to inadequate Public Health funding at a time of an increasing population in the Borough. Services were being remodelled where appropriate and contracts renegotiated to achieve efficiencies as far as possible. The importance of health prevention work was highlighted. Members noted the representations which had been made to reintroduce the consideration of “deprivation” in future funding considerations.
13. The proposals within the budget to tackle serious youth violence and, in supporting Children’s Services.
14. In conclusion Cllr Caliskan (Leader of the Council) summarised the issues within the report and discussed at the meeting. The Council had made cuts of £178m over the last 10 years; savings of £18m for 2019/20 had been difficult; further savings would be required in 2020/21; Outer London had historically been under-funded by the Government; the Government’s new funding formula proposals were unlikely to benefit Enfield and address current inequalities; the Council would continue to lobby and seek to secure the future of local government. The Cabinet Members had analysed the budget proposals in detail. The proposed cuts were necessary and Members were confident that the proposals were the best that could be achieved within the present challenging financial climate.
Alternative Options Considered: The Council operated a 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 elsewhere in the report. As part of its planning for both 2019/20 and future years the Council had considered future levels of Council Tax.
RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL
1. With regard to the revenue budget for 2019/20:
(i) To set the Council Tax Requirement for Enfield at £127.311m in 2019/20.
(ii) To set the Council Tax at Band D for Enfield’s services for 2019/20 at £1,311,48 (section 6 of the report referred), being a 2.99% general Council tax increase and a 1.00% Adult Social Care precept.
2. To agree the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP), including:
(i) The pressures set out in Appendix 3 of the report, £26.8m in 2019/20, which includes:
· An investment of £1m for Children’s Social Workers in order to reduce caseloads.
· An additional £11.4m allocated in 2019/20 to address Adults and Children’s Social Care pressures, partly funded from the new Social Care Support Grant and increased Better Care Fund totalling £5.3m.
(ii) An allocation of £0.5m per annum within the 2019/20 and 2020/21 budgets which was recommended to provide mentoring related to serious youth violence and improve data to better target resources (paragraph 9.1.3 of the report referred).
(iii) The savings of £10.7m and income proposals of £2.4m in 2019/20 set out in Appendix 2a of the report.
(iv) Full year effects of prior year savings and income generation totalling £3.4m set out in Appendix 2b of the report.
(v) Adopt the key principles set out in section 10 of the report.
(vi) Note the additional £0.3m capital budget needed to deliver an annual savings of £0.4m on the CCTV budget, which would be recommended as part of the Capital Strategy (2019/20) and 4 year Capital Programme (2019/20 – 2022/23) report (Report No.162 – Minute No.7 below refers).
3. With regard to the robustness of the 2019/20 budget and the adequacy of the Council’s earmarked reserves and balances to:
(i) Note the risks and uncertainties inherent in the 2019/20 budget and the MTFP (section 11 of the report referred) and agree the actions in hand to mitigate them.
(ii) Note the advice of the Director of Finance regarding the recommended levels of contingencies, balances and earmarked reserves (section 12 and Appendix 8a of the report referred) and had regard to the comments of the Director of Finance (section 13 of the report referred) when making final decisions on the 2019/20 budget.
(iii) Agreed the recommended levels of central contingency and general balances (section 12 of the report referred).
4. To agree the Schools Budget for 2019/20 (section 7.6 and Appendix 5 of the report referred).
5. To agree the changes in Fees and Charges for 2019/20 as set out in Sections 9.3 to 9.8 and Appendices 11 to 14 of the report.
6. To note the gap remaining in the MTFP for 2020/21 to 2022/23 and the actions being taken to address this.
7. To agree that the New Homes Bonus £1.594m was applied as a one-off contribution to the General Fund in 2019/20.
8. To agree the planned flexible use of capital receipts in 2018/19 being £4.212m and approve the planned flexible use of capital receipts in 2019/20, being £1.851m (Section 11 and Appendix 10 of the report referred).
9. To note the feedback and minutes from the Budget Consultation and Overview and Scrutiny Committee Budget Meeting on 31 January 2019 as set out in Appendices 1a and 1b of the report. Appendix 1b (the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting) were tabled at the Cabinet meeting.
Reason: To set the Council’s Budget requirement and level of Council Tax for 2019/20 within the timescales set out in legislation.
(Key decision – reference number 4744)