To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services that introduces the Council’s proposed budget for 2023/24 and provisional budgets for 2024/25 and 2025/26 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit and note the intention to provide comments and feedback to Executive Board at its February meeting through a composite report from all five scrutiny boards.
The report of the Head of Democratic Services provided members of Scrutiny Board, Strategy and Resources with the Executive Board’s proposed budget for 2023/24 and provisional budgets for 2024/25 and 2025/26 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals relating to service areas that fall within the Board’s remit.
In attendance for this item were:
· Victoria Bradshaw - Chief Officer Financial Services
· Neil Evans - Director of Resources
· Eve Roodhouse - Chief Officer Culture and Economy
· Cllr Coupar - Executive Member for Resources
Chief Officer Financial Services provided the following information to the Board:
· This report recommended the 2023/24 budget for consultation and set out proposals for the HRA and the Capital Programme. It also detailed the dedicated school grant allocations.
· There has been a net increase in the budget of £35.2m after the additional resources identified from Council Tax, Business Rates and other sources.
· The report identified pressures of which the 4% pay increase, demand increases, energy costs, fuel costs are the most significant. In total the budget proposals contain a requirement for £69.8m of savings to be made.
· The report assumed Council Tax at 2.99% and Adult Social Care precept at 1.99% and additional income from Business Rates at £15.3m.
· There is a Capital Programme Review which is being undertaken to manage the additional requirement of current borrowing that the Council has. Details of the savings proposals were detailed within the submitted report.
· It was also noted that Executive Board had considered the application to form a Business Rates Pool for next year for the five west Yorkshire Authorities and York which has been approved.
· The provisional settlement has identified additional resources since the proposals went to the December Executive Board, these total of £4.6m. It was noted that a number of pressures had also been identified since December Executive Board, for example a number of grants had been rolled into the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) of £1.2m which has now reduced the £4.6m to £3.4. It was known that there were pressures on Children and Families Transport because of the number of Education Health and Care Plans which are coming to the service. It was also noted that casual staff pay had increased due to the pay increases.
· The Board were advised that the Council was setting its budget, but the final settlement was not yet known.
Responding to questions from Members the Board were informed of the following:
· Inflation would continue to be monitored as it had been in this financial year. Provision has been made in the budget for CPI and RPI on required contracts from September with reports provided on a monthly basis to monitor this. It was noted that if inflation increases action would be required.
· It was noted that there were some significant office developments proposed for the city centre and when some complete this year, business rates income will come from them. The Board were also advised that since the pandemic businesses were moving around the city looking for the right premises for them which could have impacted on total business rate collection. There was a lot of positivity in the growth of the city and that the digital sector was growing quickly.
· The Board had noted the improved KPI’s for the Contact Centre, and the potential savings this could have. The Board would like to keep a check on this improvement and to ensure that planned reduction in staffing do not impact on performance.
· On printing it was acknowledged that there had been a reduction of about 80% over the past few years. In relation to reducing postage there were still improvements to be made. Members noted that there had been changes to Council Tax bills with some now electing to receive their bills via email, and there was potential for even more changes and more savings through this.
· The Board was advised that that charging for parking, at parks and attractions was still under consultation by the Executive Board and was not yet a final budget proposal.
RESOLVED – To consider the relevant information provided within the submitted report on the proposed budget for 2023/24 and provisional budgets for 2024/25 and 2025/26 and identify any specific comments and/ or recommendations for consideration by Executive Board as it prepares its final proposals for consideration by full Council on 22nd February 2023.