Agenda item

Robustness of the 2022/23 Budget Estimates and the Adequacy of Reserves – Local Government Act 2003 - Section 25

Report of the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services that explained that on 10 February 2022, Cabinet would be asked to recommend to Council a Budget Plan for 2022/23; that on 3 March 2022, the Council would be asked to consider and approve the Budget Plan for 2022/23 – 2024/25 and the level of Council Tax for 2022/23; and provided the Committee with:

 

  • An assessment of the Council’s current financial position and approach to the 2022/23 Budget Plan and preparation for the additional two-year budget period 2023/24 to 2024/25.
  • An update on the Government’s announcement of resources that are available to the Council for 2022/23.
  • The Council’s current financial position and the assumptions built into the Medium-Term Financial Plan.
  • The proposed Budget for 2022/23; and
  • The proposed Capital Programme for 2022/23.

 

The report set out the financial strategy of the Council and the national and local financial context within which it is operating; and indicated that the Council had a statutory requirement to remain financially sustainable and to balance its budget every year; and that the Council’s Framework for Change Programme was a comprehensive and ambitious programme that sought to support the delivery of the Council’s core purpose.  As would be expected with a programme of this size and complexity that spanned a number of financial years, the detailed proposals had been and would continue to be the subject of change as they were developed and ultimately implemented. 

 

The following appendices were attached to the report:

 

Appendix A

Individual School Budgets 2022/23

Appendix B

Draft Council Budget Summary 2022/23

Appendix C

Capital Programme 2022/23 – 2024/25

 

This report would also be considered by Cabinet and Council at their meetings to be held on 10 February and 3 March 2022 respectively.

 

The report concluded by requesting the provision any comments to Cabinet regarding the Budget Plan for 2022/23 – 2024/25 and setting the Council Tax for Sefton Council for 2022/23.

         

Members of the Committee asked questions/commented on the following issues:

 

·       in respect of the financial settlement for schools next year was there any additional provision for the ongoing impact of covid to support supply teachers who may be required

·       in respect of income from the Strand Shopping Centre reference was made to the forecast that losses of £1.700m would be experienced in 2021/22; that the current business case forecast that this income loss would reduce by £1.200m in 2022/23 (to £0.500m); but would increase again by £0.300m in 2023/24 (to £0.800m)

·       Analysis of the Council’s budget was complex and at times it could be difficult for Members to adequately scrutinise proposals

·       The potential for a waterway between the Strand shopping centre and the new Everton football ground at Bramley Moore dock; and the wider regeneration impact the football ground proposal could have on the south Sefton area

·       The setting and collection of business rates

·       The Council’s recovery policy to pursue council tax and business rate arrears

·       The receipt of New Homes Bonus payment and how it was allocated within the Council’s budget; and it was noted that the payment did not directly benefit communities that experienced housing growth in their areas  

·       An assertion was made that the government’s Levelling-Up agenda did not provide any new money for wide-ranging plans but allocated money already announced in the previous spending review

·       Capital budget strategy should be subject to scrutiny to ensure compliance with ethical business policies and the Council’s core values

·       How Sefton’s population decline could have a negative impact on the Council’s overall funding position as part of the government’s Review of Relative Needs and Resources

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the update of the Medium-Term Financial Plan for the period 2022/23 to 2024/25 be noted;

 

(2)

the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services and his staff be thanked for the production of the detailed reports for consideration at this meeting and their overall efforts in formulating the Council’s budget for consideration by Council; and

 

(3)

the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services be requested to arrange a training session/presentation to a future meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Local Government finance and the Council’s budget setting processes.  

 

 



 

 

 

Supporting documents: