To consider a report of the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Strategy.
In presenting the Budget Strategy for 2021-2022, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Capital advised that significant progress had been made in delivering Dorset Council’s priorities despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the huge challenges that had presented.
Members were asked to support a rise in general council tax of 1.997% and to levy 2.995% (3%) as the social care precept.
The following observations were made:
Cabinet acknowledged the value and importance of scrutiny committee(s) to help inform the budget process and monitor the approved budget.
It was noted that the importance Cross-party working would be required to successfully deliver the budget.
The slight increase in the Children Services budget was welcomed by the Portfolio Holder but there was also acknowledgement that efficiencies needed to be delivered in both Children and Adult Services in the forth coming year.
Recommendation to Full Council
(a) the revenue budget summarised in Appendix 1 of the report;
(b) the increase in general council tax of 1.997% and to levy 2.995% (3%) as the social care precept, providing a band D council tax figure for Dorset Council of £1,779.39;
(c) the capital strategy set out in Appendix 3 and the capital programme set out in Appendix 4of the report;
(d) the treasury management strategy set out in Appendix 5 of the report;
(f) the assumptions used to develop the budget strategy and Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) as set out throughout this report and summarised in Appendix 6 of the report;
(g) the recommended balances on earmarked reserves and on general funds, including the minimum level of the general fund;
(h) in making these recommendations Council is requested to consider and agree the responses to the recommendations and comments made as part of the budget scrutiny process (Appendix 7 of the report).
Reason for Recommendation:
The Council is required to set a balanced revenue budget, and to approve a level of council tax as an integral part of this. A balanced budget is essentially one where expenditure is funded by income without unsustainable use of one-off, or short-term sources of finance.
The Council is also required to approve a capital strategy, a capital programme and budget, and a treasury management strategy, each of which are included with this report.
The scrutiny committees are asked to consider the budget proposals on behalf of the residents of Dorset, and to provide constructive challenge to decision-makers before a final decision is made.
The committee was invited to consider the budget proposals for 2021/22 prior to consideration at Cabinet on 19 January 2021 and Full Council on 16 February 2021. The report gave a summary of progress to date on the budget strategy and process, and provided the opportunity for the scrutiny committees to review further, budget assumptions and actions being proposed to deliver a balanced and sustainable budget for 2021/22.
The Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee had the opportunity to consider the implications of the proposals on behalf of residents of Dorset and to provide constructive challenge to decision makers before a final decision was made. It was noted that the comments made by the committee would be reported to Cabinet on 19 January 2021 and taken into consideration as part of the budget setting process.
The Executive Director of Place and Executive Director of Corporate Development provided a short introduction to their budget areas and following this, councillors discussed the issues arising.
Further to the discussion held, the Chairman provided a summary of the key points raised during the discussion in relation to each area covered by the committee and noted that the points below would be submitted to Cabinet as part of the budget setting process:
to be given to developing an approach to increase car parking fees by 5% across
the board. This to be flagged up as a
direction of travel for officers to undertake more detailed work on.
· There is a need for careful funding plans for any future transition of libraries or tourist information centres.
· Concern expressed with regard to the availability of budget/resources for work identified in the Dorset Council Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy action plan and the potential issues this may have on the climate and the reputation of the council. The committee wishes to support the Leader of the Council in the continued lobbying of the government for a fairer funding deal for local government and the exploration of additional funding from government.
· Councillors appointed as Dorset Council representatives on outside bodies are encouraged to resist requests for increases in funding for these bodies at this time.
· Concern over the level of resource available for planning enforcement activities. Note – this area to be reviewed by the Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee at the January 2021 meeting.
· There is a need to review the impact of proposed reductions to staff training budgets. The example raised at committee was within the Place budget and a reduction of 20%. As a post meeting note, the Director of Place notes that this review may need to go wider than Place as it is thought that the council is proposing reductions across the board – therefore this may need to be dealt with as a corporate issue.
· There is a requirement for increased capacity in the Democratic Services, Team with particular reference to support to overview and scrutiny functions, if resources are available in the budget.
· A concern is raised in respect ... view the full minutes text for item 26