To consider a report by the Director (NE) (reference 17/44) attached.
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (NE) (Reference 17/44) in respect of the draft Financial Strategy 2017-2027. In presenting the report, the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mallory thanked all – members of the public, councillors and officers – who had played their part in the development of the draft Financial Strategy before Members today. She acknowledged the many challenges facing the Council and the difficult decisions which would need to be made, but in drawing up the budget, the Council had to look at the Borough as a whole. The Director, Mr Edwards, also expressed his gratitude to all those who had contributed to this dynamic document which had been a year in the making. However, the strategy was still in draft, since the final final settlement from Government would not be announced until the following week, although he did not anticipate any major changes. Unlike the draft budget considered by the Cabinet the previous month, this budget was now balanced thanks to additional transformational savings worth £61k, £42k efficiency savings within the Home Improvement Agency service, and £100k additional savings from car parking income. There were no further changes to the proposed revenue budget and the proposed capital budget remained unaltered. Mr Edwards noted the majority support in the public consultation exercise for the proposed Council Tax increase, the proposed use of reserves, and the identified efficiency savings. He also alluded to the fiscal challenges in the year ahead, with a further £2.1m of savings to be found in 2018/19, and that work would start on this shortly, with an interim budget report to come to the Cabinet in September. Lastly, he thanked the Corporate Finance Manager for delivering the Member briefings on the draft Financial Strategy, which 35 out of a total of 50 councillors attended. The Chairman thanked Mr Edwards, his Finance team and Members for their input into this budget, but noted with disappointment that 15 councillors did not attend the budget briefings. This disappointment was shared by the other Members of the Cabinet.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet note:
i. the feedback from the budget consultation;
ii. that current projections estimate that the Council will be required to make further savings of approximately £2.1 million to balance the 2018/19 budget and some essential and priority capital schemes remain unfunded in the budget. An interim budget report for 2018/19 setting out the approach for balancing the budget and an update on the identification of any funding to progress the unfunded capital schemes will be presented to Members in September 2017;
iii. Note the updated Treasury Management Strategy for 2017/2018, with the principal amendment being:
• Clarification that the maximum investment limit for the Royal Bank of Scotland/National Westminster Bank, which are part of the same parent institution, is a collective £15 million whilst the UK Government owns more than 25%. National Westminster Bank are the Council’s banking service provider.
And that the Cabinet recommend to the Council:
i. The approval of the Financial Strategy, specifically:
ii. the Revenue Budget for 2017/18;
iii. a Council Tax increase of £5 for a Band D property (2.31%);
iv. the Capital Budget and proposed new schemes for 2017/18;
v. the optimum levels of reserves and use of reserves in 2017/18;
vi. the Treasury Management Strategy and Prudential Indicators;
vii. the Council’s Pay Policy Statement contained, as required under Section 38 (1) of the Localism Act 2011;
viii. the Council’s Property asset Management Strategy
Full Council must approve the 2017/18 budget and associated Council Tax level and fees and charges, which are incorporated within the Financial Strategy, at its meeting on 3 March 2017.