2019/20 BUDGET (15 MINS)
Councillor Saunders to present the 2019/20 Budget Report to the Conference.
The Lead Member for Finance, Cllr Saunders, attended the meeting to answer any questions on the draft 2019/20 Budget. He informed that it was a complex budget and asked if the conference had any questions.
The conference asked Cllr Saunders the following questions:
· Concern was raised that only £20k had been allocated to fly-tipping. The conference were informed that this was a specific budget line for mobile cameras to catch fly tippers. There was a wider team that dealt with prevention and prosecution.
· There had been reports of a £7.5 million hole in the budget, how was this being addressed? Cllr Saunders informed that during the current year there had been a number of unprecedented pressures; the increased cost and demand for children in care, lower income from parking charges due to advantage card discounts and housing benefit reconciliation. The pressures had been part offset by the income from the business rates pilot income and efficiency savings. The pressures had been forecasted into the 2019/20 budget.
· The proposed budget had a reduction in the revenue budget and a number of staff changes. Cllr Saunders mentioned he coud not discuss staff changes as they were currently out for consultation. The proposed savings had been scrutinised by the appropriate scrutiny panels.
· It was asked if there had been any provision put in place for a possible general election. The conference were informed that the cost of general elections were claimed back from central Government.
The Lead Member for Finance informed that the budget for 2019/20 had been set against a national backdrop of continuing political uncertainty and demand and costs of social care in both adults and children’s services. The authority had to continue to provide quality services from a prudent resource base.
As discussed there had been pressures during the current financial year that had been taken into consideration during the budget build process these included a gross overspend in children’s services predominantly for children-in-care, and resident advantage card parking charge discounts.. It was good to see an unexpected increased use of the discount but this did create a budget pressure.
Forecasted general reserves for the end of the current financial year are £8.2 million which was £2.3 million above the minimum recommended level. It was proposed to increase council tax by 2.99% which was the maximum amount they could increase it by without a local referendum.
The Lead Member went on to explain that service spend would increases by £11.2m on the 2018/19 revenue budgets. £5 million of this increased budget would be for children’s and adults services so the vulnerable in our society could be protected.
The prudent budget allowed weekly bin collections to continue, parking discounts for advantage card holder continues, environmental health, enforcement, CCTV, Community Wardens and tree inspections are all being invested in. There was going to be £0.5 million invested in community facilities such as libraries, leisure centres, Norden Farm, the Guildhall and York House Windsor resident access.
To help fund this growth the Council needed to be run efficiently and thus there were proposed efficiency savings of £5.5 million and additional grant income of £1.3 million.
The Parish Conference noted the 2019/20 budget.