Agenda item

Capital Programme Review, Revenue Budget Update 2021/22 and Budget Savings Proposals

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services presenting details of two reports that were considered by the Executive Board at its meeting on 24 September 2020. These were the Capital Programme Review and Revenue Budget Update and Savings Proposals for 2021/22.


The report of the Head of Democratic Services provided Board Members with an update on the budget position for 2021/22 and consider both the Revenue Budget Update and Savings Proposals and Capital Programme Review reports approved by Executive Board on 24 September 2020.


In attendance for this item were:

·  Cllr James Lewis – Deputy Leader of Council and Executive Member for Resources;

·  Victoria Bradshaw – Chief Officer Financial Services;

·  Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing;

·  Cluny Macpherson – Chief Officer Culture and Sport


Members were informed of the following points;

  • At its July meeting the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board considered the initial impact of Covid-19 on the Council’s budget position both in terms of the current year and the projected impact on financial year 2021/22. Since that time Executive Board considered a further budget update and savings proposals for 2021/22 at its meeting on 24 September 2020;
  • The budget gap for 2020/21 stands at £118.8m of which £59.7m is due to pressures identified prior to the impact of COVID-19 with the balance of £59.1m resulting from the ongoing financial impact of COVID-19;
  • £32.3m had been identified through the Financial Challenge Programme of which £24.2m related to Business as Usual and £8.2m related to Service Review measures. In respect of the Board’s remit the Resources and Housing Directorate (in which the majority of the services covered by the Board’s remit sit) had identified £5.01m of Business as Usual savings and £6.33m that related to service reviews that would require further consultation;
  • The Scrutiny Board’s working group held a meeting on 25th September 2020, the outcomes of this meeting and a further planned working group on 19th November will inform the council’s decision-making in relation to the Budget for 2021/22. Comments and recommendations made by the Scrutiny Board (Strategy and Resources) during this consultation process will be captured within a composite report from Scrutiny to be submitted as part of the Provisional Budget report to the Executive Board in December.
  • It was noted that in addition to the savings proposals considered by Executive Board in September more savings proposals would be brought to the Executive Board meetings in October and November. There was a need to save around £80m for 2021-2022. The Directorate would be looking at areas such as asset disposal and back office savings. This would require delivering services differently and would also see a reduction in staff. It was noted that there had been interest in the Early Leavers Scheme which had seen about 1,000 people indicating that they would wish to go. Consideration of ELI submissions is currently ongoing and it was thought that staff reductions in this Directorate could be delivered through voluntary means. Although, there was the potential that in some service areas this may not be possible. Discussions with Trade Unions were currently ongoing;
  • The last Medium Term Financial Strategy had been agreed in July 2019, it had been recognised that there were dwindling resources. There had been a reset on the financial strategy due to Covid-19 which has had an impact on the budget, not just in this year but will do so into future years.


In response to questions from Members, the Board was informed of the following:

  • The reduction of 528 posts would be through a number options including Early Leavers Initiative, of which there had been 1,000 expressions of interest, removal of vacant posts and the possibility of redundancies. However, those who were made redundant would go into the Talent Pool and matched to those who wished to leave to where the vacancies needed filling;
  • Staff workloads would change and this would be done through changes to processes and the use of technology;
  • The Leeds Building Services contract had been extended to make savings and offer tenants value for money. Leeds Building Services would be looking to absorb the work previously undertaken by Mears in the South of the City. There may be a need to take on staff in this area of work due to different skills set required for specific jobs;
  • Council staff had shown that they are an adaptable workforce, and it was hoped that those who faced redundancy would take up roles elsewhere in the Council;
  • Responding to a question about the possibility of negative interest rates the board were informed that the Council currently has a fixed rate for its loans and therefore would not necessarily be affected by negative interest rates brought in by the Bank of England. However, short term borrowing would provide reductions which could be reflected in the Medium Term Financial Strategy, this had not been factored in but the possibility of negative interest rate would be monitored.


RESOLVED – To note the content of the report.


Supporting documents: