A report from the Executive Director – Resources is attached. (Report No.199, agenda part two also refers) (Key decision – reference number 5076)
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Executive Director – Resources (No.190) recommending the setting of the general revenue budget and council tax for the 2020/21 financial year.
1. That the proposals set out in the report were the culmination of the 2020/21 budget planning process and built on previous Cabinet decisions relating to the tranche one and two savings; and, the Council Tax support scheme and business rate base decisions. The proposals reflected the discussions which had taken place on the Council’s priorities, demands and pressures. Members reiterated the need for adequate Government funding to provide a sustainable budget that was not reliant on the allocation of one-off Government resources; long-term funding was required to provide certainty and efficient future planning of services.
2. The detail of the national context and Local Government Finance Settlement as detailed in section 4 of the report and the amendment sheet circulated at the meeting. The Council would continue to lobby the Government for timely multi-year funding settlements.
3. That the Council’s budget was under constant review by the Cabinet Members and senior officers. The Council would continue to seek to protect its most vulnerable residents and meet service demands.
4. As set out in the report, its purpose was to set the general revenue budget and council tax for the 2020/21 financial year. It also updated the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan in the light of those decisions. In summary it recommended:
· A net revenue budget of £236.904m, a 2.56% increase when compared with 2019/2020.
· The net revenue budget contained investment in services of £4.5m and savings/income generation proposals of £11.9m.
· A core council tax of £1,244.57 at Band D, a 1.99% increase
· A further £119.20 at Band D to pay for Adult Social Care as allowed by Central Government, a 2.00% increase on 2019/20.
· This resulted in a charge for Enfield Council of £1,363.77 at Band D, a 3.99% increase: equivalent to an increase of £1.00 per week for a Band D property.
· Additionally, the Council would levy a council tax of £332.07 at Band D on behalf of the Greater London Authority which was a 3.61% increase on last year.
· In total the impact of these proposals would be total council tax of £1,695.84 at Band D, a 3.91% increase on the 2019/2020 level, equivalent to an increase of £1.22 per week for a Band D property.
5. A number of areas of investment were highlighted to Members as detailed within the report including in Adults Social Care and Children’s Services; transformation; tackling youth violence; and, £1m of CIL neighbourhood funding to support the implementation of the 27 recommendation arising from the recent Poverty Commission report (Minute No.10 below referred). The budget process had sought to protect the most vulnerable in the Borough.
6. The recommendations within the report regarding the Schools’ Budget.
7. That the report included recommendations on the appropriate level for the Council’s contingencies, balances and earmarked reserves.
8. That there were a few minor amendments to figures and referencing within the report from the version previously published and circulated. The details were as set out below, and circulated at the Cabinet meeting:
· In section 2 of the report there was a very minor change in the 2020/21 Council Tax Requirement to avoid rounding issues on the Council Tax bandings, and also a correction of an incorrect section reference.
· Section 4 of the report had been updated to account for the final settlement for 2020/21 being announced and for some corrections to the SFA movements over time, referred to both in the text and in table 1 of the report.
· Section 5 had a correction of a section reference within the fees and charges section of the report.
· Table 3 in section 7 of the report had been updated for the changes resulting from the council tax rounding issue identified in section 2 of the report.
· Section 8 of the report had made reference to an incorrect year and Section 10 of the report contained a paragraph referencing error.
· All of the sections 11 and 14 changes of the report were minor adjustments to figures stemming from the council tax rounding issue identified in section 2 of the report.
· There was a single change to a new fee for Scan on Demand Service for planning case work.
9. Members discussed the detailed budget proposals and several questions and comments were raised including the following issues.
10. The allocation of £0.5m to assist in tackling youth violence through, for example, early intervention and mentoring work was welcomed.
11. That the Council would continue to lobby the Government for adequate long-term funding for the provision of essential services to the Borough’s residents. The Council would continue to seek to protect its most vulnerable residents.
12. That this was a sound and well-managed budget in a continuing period of austerity and inadequate Government funding. The budget reflected the political priorities of the Council administration and sought to protect the most vulnerable. The budget proposals were sustainable and sought to take the Borough to the next phase of implementing the Council’s corporate priorities. It included proposals for economic growth and regeneration and, addressed the issue of increasing crime levels. The budget reflected the Council’s commitment to invest in a better Enfield. It was ambitious for a growing Borough. The Council’s commitments were highlighted including housing provision and insourcing services where possible. The significant work of the Cabinet Members and Officers in reaching this stage was recognised and appreciated. The budget represented the Council’s commitment to the future of Enfield and its residents.
13. The investment in young people and the tackling of youth crime was welcomed. It was noted that the Council had recently received GLA grant funding of £1.4m from the Young Londoners Fund to deliver projects in the Borough.
14. That Appendix 8A of the report set out the statement of the Section 151 officer under the requirements of Section 25 of the Local Government Act 2003. Taking account of the issues set out within the report, the Executive Director – Resources was of the view that the 2020/21 budget was robust.
15. In relation to Children’s Services, the continuing difficulties faced in juggling service demands and priorities with inadequate levels of funding was recognised; and the hard work of officers was appreciated in continuing to deliver services to the most vulnerable.
16. That the ambitious budget proposals would continue to seek to reduce inequalities in the Borough and raise health standards.
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 before recommendations were made. Issues raised and discussed had greatly contributed to this report including information from the Budget Engagement exercise set out in the report. As part of its planning for both 2020/21 and future years the Council had considered future levels of Council Tax.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed
1. With regard to the revenue budget for 2020/21 to recommend that Council:
i. Set the Council Tax Requirement for Enfield at £133.276m in 2020/21.
ii. Set the Council Tax at Band D for Enfield’s services for 2020/21 at £1,363.77 (section 7 of the report referred), being a 1.99% general Council Tax increase and a 2.00% 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, £30.148m in 2020/21 (partly offset by a £3.600m benefit from the Pensions Actuarial Review to give a net figure of £26.548m), which included:
a. £1.5m for additional social workers within Children’s Social Care to address caseload pressures.
b. A further £10.3m allocated in 2020/21 to address Adults and Children’s Social Care pressures, partly funded from further Social Care Support Grant allocated by the Government in 2020/21 (£5.4m).
ii. £2.405m investment in transformation funded by the flexible use of capital receipts.
iii. 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 10.7 of the report referred).
iv. Full year effects of prior year savings and income generation totalling £3.279m as set out in Appendix 2a of the report.
v. The savings of £9.2m and income proposals of £2.7m in 2020/21 as set out in Appendix 2b of the report.
vi. Adopt the key principles as set out in section 11 of the report.
vii. Note the £3.4m for Capital Financing included within the pressures figure to invest in proposals to deliver long term benefits to the Council.
3. To recommend that Council agrees the Schools Budget for 2020/21 (section 8.20 and Appendix 5 of the report referred).
4. To agree that changes in Fees and Charges for 2020/21 as set out in Sections 10.20 to 10.44 and Appendices 11 to 13 of the report, and delegate authority to Executive Directors and Directors to negotiate discounts where appropriate.
5. To note the gap remaining in the MTFP for 2021/22 to 2024/25 and the actions being taken to address this.
6. To recommend that Council agrees that the New Homes Bonus funding of £0.646m be applied as a one-off contribution to the General Fund in 2020/21.
7. To recommend that Council agrees the planned flexible use of capital receipts in 2019/20 being £3.256m and approves the planed flexible use of capital receipts in 2020/21, being £2.405m (section 10.45 and Appendix 10 of the report referred).
8. To note the feedback and minutes from the Budget Engagement and Overview and Scrutiny Committee budget meeting on 19 December 2019 as set out in Appendices 1a and 1b of the report.
9. With regard to the robustness of the 2020/21 budget and the adequacy of the Council’s earmarked reserves and balances to:
i. Note the risks and uncertainties inherent in the 2020/21 budget and the MTFP (section 11 of the report) and agrees the actions in hand to mitigate them.
ii. Note the advice of the Executive Director – Resources regarding the recommended levels of contingencies, balances and earmarked reserves (section 13 and Appendix 8a of the report referred) and have regard to the comments of the Director of Finance (section 17 of the report referred) when making final decisions on the 2020/21 budget.
iii. Agree the recommended levels of central contingency and general balances (section 13 of the report referred).
Reason: To set the Council’s Budget requirement and level of Council Tax for 2020/21 within the timescales set out in legislation.
(Key decision – reference number 5076)