A report from the Executive Director – Resources is attached. (Key decision – reference number 5213)
Councillor Mary Maguire (Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement) introduced the report of the Executive Director – Resources setting the revenue budget and Council Tax for the 2021/22 financial year. The report also updated the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan in the light of those decisions.
1. The summary of the budget proposals as outlined in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the report.
2. The context of the budget setting with continued uncertainties and financial challenges ahead following 10 years of austerity, the impact of the pandemic and a number of future Government funding reviews awaited.
3. That table 2 in the report set out the summary position for 2021/22 followed by a narrative of the key issues including collection fund uncertainties; losses through fees and charges; growing pressures on Adult Social Care, Children’s services and homelessness.
4. That without the impact of the pandemic the Council’s budget had been in a positive, strong and resilient position.
5. The increases in Council Tax had been directed by the Government as explained in the report.
6. The detailed proposals as set out in paragraphs 7 to 16 of the report and reflected in the decisions below.
7. That Appendix 8a of the report provided the statement of the Section 151 Officer on the robustness of the budget estimates and adequacy of the reserves. The Council’s contingencies and balances were considered prudent. Members were also provided with assurances at the meeting and the soundness and robust budget position reiterated. Good financial planning had been demonstrated and appropriate actions taken mid-year as a result of the pandemic. Reserves had been strengthened and a transparent approach adopted. There had been additional scrutiny this year through the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel. A sound budget was being presented to Members for approval despite the significant financial challenges arising from the pandemic.
8. The budget proposals would continue to seek to protect the most vulnerable residents in the Borough and deliver on the Council’s commitments.
9. The considerable loss in the Council’s commercial income resulting from the pandemic. The Place Department had been most significantly affected with examples outlined to Members. This also highlighted the Council’s income generation activities.
10. In response to a question raised, it was noted that Enfield had the highest Council Tax Support Scheme in London. Pressures had increased during the pandemic and were likely to increase further when the Government’s furlough scheme came to an end. The financial impact was explained.
11. The measures being taken to support and retain Children’s Services through savings in staff re-organisations and redirection of resources to support the early help family hub and children and family services with an increase in Children’s social workers. The measures would support the Council’s Children and Young People Plan and Poverty Strategy.
12. The continuing pressures on Adult Social Council and the need for adequate Government funding to meet growing demands. The additional pressures arising from the pandemic had been enormous and the Council and voluntary sector had responded well in continuing to protect the most vulnerable residents. Members reiterated the need for increased long-term Government funding to meet demand and so reduce the reliance on local council tax income.
13. The enormous public health challenges which had been faced this year and the impact on resources available. The Council would continue to lobby the Government for fair funding for Enfield to meet its public health requirements taking into account the demographics of the Borough and comparisons with other similar Boroughs.
14. The essential environmental services that had continued to be provided throughout the pandemic and in meeting the Government’s lockdown requirements. The immense health and well-being value of the Borough’s parks and open spaces during this time was highlighted. In addition, the Council had continued to fulfil its commitments for example, in the LED street lighting conversion programme and investing in projects such as the Albany Park flood alleviation works. Members expressed their thanks and appreciation to all officers in fulfilling key frontline services during this challenging time. Members noted the review of fees and charges and the Council’s support to residents in financial hardship. The green waste collection fee was highlighted.
15. The Council’s priority to drive forward the climate action and sustainability targets and the need for Government funding to support the effective reduction of carbon emissions. A number of initiatives and areas of investment were highlighted, for example, retrofitting projects, tree planting, healthy streets and the Mayor of London’s woodland projects.
16. The Council’s continued support of the community and voluntary sector services. The importance of the Council’s Community Safety Unit and CCTV provision was highlighted.
17. The need for Government funding to compensate the Council for the significant costs incurred in housing rough sleepers during the pandemic.
18. The importance and value of the Council’s workforce in delivering the Council’s priorities and objectives and fulfilling its service requirements. Ian Davis (Chief Executive) thanked all Council officers for their continued hard work and commitment during a very difficult year. Officers had successfully met a number of challenges and continued to fully support residents, maintain essential services and would fulfil Member priorities going forward. The Council’s management team would continue to support the skills and knowledge of tis workforces with appropriate training and professional development and schemes including apprenticeships and career returners. The Council had a strong workforce and the reliance on interim staff was being reduced. There were huge challenges ahead but the Council was well-placed to meet those challenges with a skilled and motivated workforce. The Council was a major employer in the Borough and many employees also being residents of Enfield.
19. Members welcomed the comments of the Chief Executive and expressed their appreciation to Council officers.
20. The extensive and detailed budget process which had taken place, including the consultation undertaken, as set out in the report. The budget proposals would be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to approval by full Council.
21. That a balanced budget was being presented; this was a significant achievement in the challenging circumstances. Cabinet Members would continue to work with Executive Directors going forward to implement the budget proposals for the benefit of the Borough and its residents.
Alternative Options Considered: None applicable for this report.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed
1. To note the budget is a balanced position, however, the forecast costs of Covid-19 have been offset by underlying budget position is a surplus of £7.071m.
2. To note the total cost of Covid-19 in 2021/22 is estimated to be £28.868m; funding levels do not fully meet this gap which totals £10.259m and therefore will need to be funded in part from the reserves
3. To note Government funding assumptions continue to rely on council tax as a key source of funding for Adult Social Care through the Precept.
4. The continuation of the London Business Rate pool was dependent on Government response to London Councils and safety net; this will not proceed in 2021/22 and the impact on Enfield in 2021/22 is a £0.425m reduction in income.
5. With regard to the Revenue Budget for 2021/22 to recommend to Council to set the Council Tax Requirement for Enfield at £133.108m in 2021/22.
6. To recommend to Council to set the Council Tax at Band D for Enfield’s services for 2021/22 at £1,431.81, being a 1.99% general Council Tax increase and a 3.00% Adult Social Care Precept.
7. To recommend to Council to agree the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP), including:
i. The non Covid-19 pressures set out in Appendix 1 of the report totalling £29.426m in 2021/22, which includes
a. £3.466m for Demographic pressures within Adults and Children’s Social Care and SEN Transport to reflect growing demand in these areas.
b. £5.885m of Inflation and pay award funding
ii. £1.819m investment in transformation funded by the flexible use of capital receipts.
iii. full year effects of prior year savings and income generation totalling £3.374m set out in Appendix 2a.
iv. the savings of £7.748m and income generation proposals of £1.875m in 2021/22 set out in Appendix 2b.
v. adopt the key principles set out in the Medium term Financial Plan section below (paragraphs 172 to 177).
vi. note the £2.709m for Capital Financing included within the pressures figure to invest in proposals to deliver long term benefits to the Borough.
8. To recommend that Council agrees the planned flexible use of capital receipts in 2020/21 being £1.864m and approves the planned flexible use of capital receipts in 2021/22, being £1.819m (paragraphs 139 to 144 and Appendix 3 of the report refers).
9. To recommend that Council agrees the Schools Budget for 2021/22 (paragraphs 145 to 165 and Appendix 4 of the report refers).
10. To recommend to Council to agree the changes in Fees and Charges for 2021/22 as set out in paragraph 138 and Appendices 11 to 14 of the report and to note December Cabinet recommended to Council to delegate authority to Executive Directors and Directors to negotiate discounts and make in year amendments where appropriate.
11. To note the gap remaining in the MTFP for 2022/23 of £12.141m; and of £36.033m for the period 2022/23 to 2025/26 and the actions being taken to address this challenging position.
12. To recommend that Council agrees that the New Homes Bonus funding of £0.608m is applied as a one-off contribution to the General Fund in 2021/22.
13. To note Council will be provided with feedback from the Budget Engagement at Appendix 5a and minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Budget Meeting on 4 February 2021 which will be set out in Appendix 5b of the report to Council.
14. With regard to the robustness of the 2021/22 budget and the adequacy of the Council’s earmarked reserves and balances to:
i. note the risks and uncertainties inherent in the 2021/22 budget and the MTFP (paragraphs 178 to 182 of the report refer) and agree the actions in hand to mitigate them;
ii. note the advice of the Executive Director of Resources regarding the recommended levels of contingencies, balances and earmarked reserves (paragraphs 183 to 190 and Appendix 8a of the report refers) and have regard to the comments of the Director of Finance (paragraphs 207 to 209 of the report) when making final decisions on the 2021/22 budget; and
iii. agree the recommended levels of central contingency and general balances (paragraphs 183 to 190 of the report refer).
Reason: To set the Council’s Budget Requirement and level of Council Tax for 2021/22 within the timescales set out in legislation. The Council has a statutory duty to approve a balanced budget for 2021/22 along with consideration of the finances over the medium term and the Council’s reserves and balances. It is essential that there is a clear understanding of the anticipated income and expenditure flows for the Council, despite the uncertainties, and for savings proposals to ensure full delivery from 1 April 2021 wherever possible to maximise their contribution to addressing the financial pressures in 2021/22 and beyond.
(Key decision – reference number 5213)