To consider the report of the Chief Officer (Financial Services) presenting the proposed budget for 2021/22, which subject to Executive Board’s approval, will be submitted to the respective Scrutiny Boards for their consideration and review, with the outcome of their deliberations being reported to Executive Board on the 10th February 2021, with the proposals also being made available to other stakeholders as part of a wider and continuing process of engagement and consultation.
The Chief Officer (Financial Services) submitted a report presenting the initial budget proposals for 2021/22, and which sought agreement for them to be submitted to Scrutiny for consideration, and also used as a basis for wider consultation with stakeholders. In addition, the report also provided an update on the provisional budgets for 2022/23 and 2023/24.
As part of the introduction to the report, the Chair thanked officers for the efforts which had been made in getting to this stage in the 2021/22 budget setting process. In addition, it was noted that the proposed budget as presented in the report had been compiled whilst details of the final Local Government Finance Settlement were awaited, however, it was noted that an announcement on this was expected from Government on 17th December 2020.
In considering the details within the submitted report, Members discussed a number of issues including support for Neighbourhood Networks, the provision of Wellbeing funding levels for Community Committees, options regarding the Adult Social Care precept and the importance of cross-directorate reviews in order to maximise the effectiveness of the Council services provided with the resources available. Members also discussed the level of the Council’s reserves and borrowing.
With regard to consultation as part of the budget setting process, the early consideration of savings proposals over recent months by Executive Board was welcomed and it was noted that consultation continued on a number of such proposals. It was also acknowledged that the proposed budget was being submitted to today’s meeting with a recommendation that it was agreed for the purposes of being released for consultation.
The requirement to submit a balanced budget to Council for approval in February 2021 was acknowledged, however it was highlighted that given the unprecedented circumstances that continued to be faced and the fact that the final Local Government Finance Settlement was still awaited, the proposed budget as presented, did not balance.
(a) That with regard to the savings proposals as presented at Appendix 4 to the submitted report:-
(i) The financial position for 2021/22, as outlined in the submitted report, be noted, with it also being noted that further savings are required to deliver a balanced budget position;
(ii) The ‘Business as Usual’ savings, as detailed, be noted, with it also being noted that decisions to give effect to them shall be taken by the relevant Director or Chief Officer in accordance with the Officer delegation scheme (Executive functions);
(iii) The recommendations within the ‘Service Review’ proposals at Annexe 4.2 of the submitted report, be agreed, with agreement also being given to the commencement of related consultation; with it being noted that decisions to give effect to such matters shall be taken by the relevant Director or Chief Officer, following the consultation period, in accordance with the Officer delegation scheme (Executive functions) save where the Leader, relevant portfolio holder or Director considers that the matter should be referred to Executive Board for consideration;
(b) That consultation on the proposed budget for 2021/22, as detailed within the submitted report which includes the proposed increases in core Council Tax and the Adult Social Care precept, be agreed, with it also being agreed that these budget proposals are submitted to Scrutiny and used as a basis for wider consultation with stakeholders;
(c) That the provisional budget position for 2022/23 and 2023/24, as detailed within the submitted report, be noted, with it also being noted that savings proposals to address the updated estimated budget gaps of £55.7m and £32.4m for 2022/23 and 2023/24 respectively will be reported to future meetings of this Board;
(d) That the Board notes that the proposal to approve the implementation of an additional Council Tax premium on any dwelling where the empty period is at least ten years, from 200% to 300% premium, will be submitted to Full Council in January 2021 for consideration;
(e) That, should the application to form a new Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool be successful, approval be given for Leeds City Council to become a member of the proposed Pool and act as lead authority for it; with it being noted that the establishment of this new Pool is dependent upon none of the other proposed member authorities choosing to withdraw within the statutory period after designation.
(Under the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 16.5, Councillors A Carter and S Golton both required it to be recorded that they respectively abstained from voting on the decisions referred to within this minute)
(The resolutions referred to within Minute No. 96 (b) – (d) (above) given that these were decisions being made in accordance with the Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules, were not eligible for Call In, as Executive and Decision Making Procedure Rule 5.1.2 states that the power to Call In decisions does not extend to those decisions made in accordance with the Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules.
However, the resolutions referred to in Minute No. 96 (a) (i) – (iii) and (e) (above) were eligible for Call In, given that these were decisions not being taken as part of the Budget and Policy Framework Procedure Rules)