Report of the Strategic Director of Finance and Customer Services
Cabinet Member: Councillor Alam
Commissioner: Ney (in advisory role)
That Cabinet recommend to Council:
· Approval of the Budget and Financial Strategy for 2018/19 as set out in the report and appendices, including the need to deliver £15.1m of budget savings and a basic Council Tax increase of 2.99%.
· Approval that the £965k additional Council Tax income generated from 1% of this increase is earmarked for kerbside collection of plastic waste and that the final decision on the operational model for waste services be determined by Cabinet following analysis of the public responses to the consultation and related options.
· Approval of the Government’s proposals for the maximum Adult Social Care precept of 3% on Council Tax for 2018/19 to fund additional costs in relation to Adult Social Care Services.
· Approval that the precept figures from South Yorkshire Police Authority, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority and the various Parish Councils within the Borough be incorporated, when known, into the recommendation to the Council on 28th February 2018.
· That an updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) is brought back to Cabinet in 2018/19 after the accounts for 2017/18 have been closed.
· Approval of the proposed use of reserves as set out in Section 3.5, noting that there may be a variation subject to the Final Local Government Finance Settlement and that the final determination will be approved as part of reporting the outturn for 2017/18.
· Approval that any changes resulting from the Final Local Government Finance Settlement be reflected in the Budget report to Council on 28th February with the balance of any change being reflected in a change in the required use of reserves.
· That it notes and accepts the comments and advice of the Strategic Director of Finance and Customer Services (Section 151 Officer), provided in compliance with Section 25 of the Local Government Act 2003, as to the robustness of the estimates included in the Budget and the adequacy of reserves for which the Budget provides (Section 3.9).
· That it notes the consultation feedback from the public, partners and trade unions following publication of Directorate budget savings proposals on the Council’s website for public comment from 6th December 2017 to 4th January 2018 (Section 5).
· Approval that all Council Fees and Charges are increased for 2018/19 by the September CPI increase of 3% other than Fees and Charges which are determined by national statute and that lists of all proposed fees and charges for 2018/19 are submitted to Cabinet in March for approval.
· Approval to the proposed increases in Adult Social Care Provider contracts as set out in Section 3 of the report.
· Approval to use £200k of the Local Welfare Provision balance of grant funding to continue arrangements for Crisis Loan Support as set out in Section 3 of the report.
· Approval to the carry forward into 2018/19 of any unspent balances of funding for the Community Leadership Fund and Delegated Ward ... view the full agenda text for item 111
Consideration was given to the report which proposed the Council’s Budget and Council Tax for 2018/19 based on the outcome of the Council’s Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement, budget consultation and the consideration of Directorate budget proposals through the Council’s formal Budget and Scrutiny process (Overview and Scrutiny Management Board) alongside a review of the financial planning assumptions within the Medium Term Financial Strategy.
In setting the proposed 2018/19 Budget, Council was being recommended to an increase of 2.99% in the Council’s basic Council Tax and a further 3% increase for the Adult Social Care precept; a combined increase of 5.99% for 2018/19.
This Budget focussed on continuing to protect and support Rotherham’s most vulnerable children and adults whilst trying to ensure that a wide range of services continued to be provided to all residents. There were no new savings from Adult Social Care and a continuation of investment in Children’s Safeguarding, as approved by Council in 2017, with no savings required from Children’s Safeguarding Services.
The Budget recognised the ongoing demand pressures on both Children’s and Adult Social Care Services, but also that to continue to spend at current levels was unaffordable in the long term. Therefore, there was no additional base budget funding for the two services and the current demand pressures were to be managed within the Council’s overall resources until such time as the costs could be reduced to levels more representative of other authorities.
The Budget provided sufficient funding to maintain payment of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Living Wage rate for the Council’s own staff and would continue to provide funding to help to partially mitigate the impact of Welfare Reform on the most vulnerable – through the provision of a budget for food parcels and crisis loans.
The Budget included the maximum Adult Social Care Precept in order to maximise resources to directly support Adult Social Care and the maximum Council Tax increase allowable in order to minimise adverse impact on services and also to ensure that there were resources set aside to enable genuine consideration of the feedback from the public on the recent Waste Review.
The Budget also maximised the allowable flexibilities in the use of capital receipts to support the Revenue Budget. The Capital Programme had funding allocated to allow for the continuation of annualised and essential investment and also included the addition of a small number of highways schemes plus funding for items that would make a difference to residents in terms of public realm such as improvements in pavements, CCTV cameras to deal with fly tipping and other environmental crime and the provision or larger or different public litter bins.
Feedback from both public and partners in relation to the budget proposals were also provided that were published on the Council’s website for consultation until 4th January, 2018.
The Strategic Director of Finance and Customer Services as Section 151 Officer gave her assurance that the budget estimates for 2018/19 were robust overall when considered in conjunction with the budget ... view the full minutes text for item 111
Consideration was given to a report due to be determined by the Cabinet and Commissioners’ Decision Making Meeting on 19 February 2018 that proposed the Council’s Budget and Council Tax for 2018/19 based on the outcome of the Council’s Provisional Local Government Financial Settlement, budget consultation and the consideration of Directorate budget proposals alongside a review of the financial planning assumptions within the Medium Term Financial Strategy.
The report contained proposals to balance the revenue budget for 2018/19 and Members noted that work was ongoing to bring forward proposals to address the challenging financial position for future years and to enable the Council to establish a clear and sustainable financial plan which would address the estimated £30m financial gap that remained for the next two years.
In presenting the report, both the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Finance and the Leader of the Council emphasised the scale of the challenge facing the authority and the way in which corporate savings had been targeted to protect services from the impact of the reduction in the government’s Revenue Support Grant.
Members sought clarity in respect of reductions in budgets where consistent underspends had been identified. It was explained that there were lines within budgets across the Council which had been historically underspent and that the budget for these areas could be reduced to reflect the actual level of spend to realise efficiencies. Members also queried the proposals in respect of increasing fees and charges and were advised that this would be dealt with in a separate report to be considered at the Cabinet and Commissioners’ Decision Making Meeting in March 2018.
The Board reiterated the need to include equality impact assessments for all budget savings in future. In response, it was confirmed that any budget item that was substantial or required a separate report would be accompanied by an equality impact assessment.
Members queried whether there was any additional funding that could be utilised from any adjustments from the central government financial settlement and the social care precept for adult social care. In response, it was explained that discussions would be required with the Leader of the Council and any technical amendments and decisions would be included for Cabinet’s consideration and ultimately the Council at its meeting on 28 February 2018.
Focussing on the need to improving efficiency across the Council, Members queried what work could be done to make the authority “paper free”, to reduce printing and postage costs. It was explained that this was an area of work that was being led by the Customer Services and Efficiency Board within the Finance and Customer Services directorate. Members indicated that they would support efforts to increase paperless working, particularly in respect of paperwork for committee meetings.
Recognising the quality of the consultation exercise for the waste review, Members sought to understand how lessons would be learned from this to improve the quality of consultation on the budget proposals in future years. In response, the Leader of the Council confirmed that ... view the full minutes text for item 101