A report from the Director of Finance is attached. (Key decision – reference number 4745)
(7.40 – 7.50 pm)
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Director of Finance (No.122) summarising progress on the preparation of the Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for 2019/20 to 2022/23.
1. Members expressed their concern over the delay in the announcement of the Government’s Local Government Finance Settlement which was now due on 13 December 2018. Local authorities were continuing to operate in a climate of uncertainty and such delays were unacceptable. The pressures being faced on local authority service provision at a time of continuing reduced funding provision was highlighted.
2. That the report provided an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan including pressures, savings, full year effects and grants and, noted the remaining budget gap of £6m in 2019/20.
3. That Phase 1 and 2 savings and income generation proposals previously reported to Cabinet had been updated in Appendix B and Phase 3 proposals for savings and income generation were put forward for approval in Appendix C.
4. The information provided in Table 1 of the report – summary of savings and income generation proposals; and, Table 2 of the report – growth and pressures in the medium term financial plan.
5. That the medium term financial plan pressures 2019/20 to 2020/21 were set out in Appendix D of the report, some of which were related to demographic change.
6. The importance of having a robust and resilient budget, as outlined in detail in the report.
7. As set out in the report, the consultation on the proposed Fair Funding arrangements was still awaited and the final arrangements for 2019/20 would not be known until autumn 2019. Members expressed their concern that the outcome would not be fair for London.
8. In addition to the above, it was noted that the formulae for specific budget allocations were changing as well, the funding risks faced by local authorities were highlighted.
9. In response to questions raised, the processes undertaken with regard to the Housing Revenue Account were outlined which ensured continued good practice and a prudent approach.
10. A discussion took place on the income generation proposals set out in Appendix B of the report, including growth in commercial use of the pest control service and, filming opportunities in the Borough.
11. That the public health implications in the report stated that Heads of Service would consider whether the savings proposals could have an adverse impact on Public Health and, would take action to mitigate any impact. Councillor Caliskan asked that Cabinet Members be individually advised and consulted on any specific public health implications in relation to services within their areas of responsibility.
12. The difficult decisions and pressures being faced by the local authority as a consequence of Central Government funding cuts.
Alternative Options Considered: NOTED, that the Council operated a budget planning and consultation process during which a wide range of options were considered in detail.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed to
1. Note the progress made to date in the preparation of the 2019/20 budget and the current budget gap of £6m (set out in Appendix A of the report) and the work continuing on this to present a balanced budget in February 2019.
2. Progress the Phase 3 savings proposals of £1.835m set out in Appendix C of the report and noted the updated Phase 1 and 2 savings (detailed in Appendix B of the report).
3. Note the pressures being included in the draft budget as set out in Appendix D of the report which aimed to put the budget on a more resilient footing.
4. Note that the draft Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS) was due to be published on 13 December 2018 and the final LGFS by the end of January 2019, and the budget would need to be amended for any changes to current assumptions.
Reason: To manage the 2019/20 financial planning process having regard to constraints in public spending.
(Key decision – reference number 4745)