Agenda item

Initial Budget Proposals for 2021/2022

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services that introduces the Executive Board’s initial budget proposals for 2021/22 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit.


The report of the Head of Democratic Services provided members of the Scrutiny Board (Strategy and Resources) with the Executive Board’s initial budget proposals for 2021/22 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals relating to service areas that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit.


In attendance for this item were:

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

·  Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing

·  Victoria Bradshaw – Chief Officer Financial Services


Members were informed that this report detailed the proposals for 2021/22 and also the provisional budgets for 2022/23 and 2023/24. This report took into consideration the spending review announced on 25th November 2020, it was noted that subsequent to the report being issued there had been an announcement on the 17th December, around the provisional local government financial settlement. This had been reviewed and information provided to Members. The Board were advised that the settlement means the Council is better off by £560,000.


The report covered the spending review, economic forecast, Council tax and business rates forecast, the devolution deal and the gain share.


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

·  Loss of income related to the Covid-19 pandemic is compensated by the government scheme who provide 75p in every £1. The government had also said that there will be additional funding of around £2.3m for each month that we are in lockdown. This will be taken into account when reporting to the Executive Board in February;

·  It was noted that the courts had been holding virtual meetings, but at the time of the meeting there were no figures in relation to court fee income. However, the Chief Officer said that she would come back with the information;

·  Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) is within the Council budget, therefore, is taken into consideration. Members were provided with a detailed explanation as to how the Council proposes to mitigate MRP in the budget for 2021/22, although it was recognised that it has had some impact on the budget proposals. It was noted that at full Council in 2016, the Members had agreed to MRP adjustments to ensure that frontline services were not cut;

·  The Board was provided with an explanation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Regional Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme (REAP), Leeds is participating in the programme. Funding from the Business Rates Pool had assisted with the employment of an individual to develop the plan and procure a programme which will be starting soon. Discussions are ongoing with WYCA to gain access to monies to support the recovery of the economy throughout the region to encourage recovery from the pandemic. The Board requested more information on this and to have an oversight on decision making in relation to this;

·  There are reserves for Adult Social Care (ASC) totalling £17.7m with some established for unprecedented events, therefore there could be a need to use some of these reserves to deal with Covid issues, this was contained within the submitted report. It was noted that full Council will consider the precept for ASC in relation to Council tax in 2021/22;

·  It was recognised that in relation to right to buy there would be a loss of income. However, the Board was advised that the plan was to build 300 council homes per year and that the Council continue lobby government around the technicalities of right to buy;

·  Members were advised that information would be provided in relation to budgeted amounts for staff in ASC;

·  It was recognised that there had been an increase in voids, and that this had been due to health and safety of staff visiting and repairing properties during the pandemic. The Board was advised that once restrictions have been lifted the amount of voids would be lowered as there was still a significant waiting list for those wanting council accommodation.


The Chair said that this was an unprecedented year, and the approach to developing budget proposals, with closer involvement of scrutiny boards, was good and had produced much more dynamic conversation on budgets, and for Members to have input through scrutiny. She thanked the staff in finance for all their hard work on the Council budget at this current time.


In response to a question from the Chair, the Board was informed that due to staff leaving through the Early Leavers Initiative (ELI) there would be some difficulties and pressures. However, a robust decision making process had been used, including detailed business cases, to ensure there were plans in place for business continuity and to address our priorities.


RESOLVED – To note the content of the report.





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