Cabinet considered the head of finance’s report. This brought together all relevant information to allow Cabinet to recommend to Council a revenue budget for 2017/18 and a capital programme for 2017/18 to 2021/22. The Medium Term Financial Plan was included, which provided details of the forward budget model for the next five years. The report also recommended the prudential indicators to be set by the Council in accordance with ‘the Prudential Code’, introduced as part of the Local Government Act 2003.
The Cabinet member for finance reported that there had been a number of challenges that had delayed the budget setting process, particularly around understanding the impact of changes to the calculation of new homes bonus, and around the new operating environment within the council. However, the Cabinet member thanked the officers for their work in producing the draft budget.
The report included growth proposals to deliver the corporate plan priorities. There were some savings proposals too.
The medium term financial plan included an increase in council tax of £5 in 2017/18 for Band D properties. However, due to the late confirmation of figures such as the new homes bonus and a re-assessment of the capital programme, the council’s financial position was better than expected. As a result, the Cabinet member for finance proposed that there should be no increase in council tax in 2017/18, the first year of the medium term financial plan. During Cabinet’s debate, an amendment was proposed that there should be no council tax increase shown throughout the five-year medium term financial plan period. However, this amendment found no seconder and therefore fell. Cabinet concluded that by including provisional council tax increases for years two to five of the medium term financial plan period, it retained greater flexibility for the council to manage its revenue budget and council tax during those years. This did not set any precedent; the provisional council tax increases in years two to five of the medium term financial plan could be reduced to zero in future years if the council so wished.
RECOMMENDED: to Council to
(a) set the revenue budget for 2017/18, as set out in appendix A.1 to the head of finance’s report to Cabinet on 1 February 2017, subject to there being no council tax increase in 2017/18;
(b) agree that the capital schemes listed in paragraph 33 to the head of finance’s report remain in the capital programme;
(c) approve the capital programme for 2017/18 to 2021/22, as set out in appendix D.1 to the head of finance’s report, together with the capital growth bids, set out in appendix D.2 of the head of finance’s report;
(d) set the council’s prudential limits, as listed in appendix E to the head of finance’s report;
(e) approve the medium term financial plan to 2021/22, as set out in appendix F to the head of finance’s report, subject to there being no council tax increase in 2017/18;
(f) allocate £1,000,000 to fund the Communities Capital and Revenue Grant Scheme.
(g) agree that the head of finance, following consultation with the cabinet member for finance:
(i) may amend the budget report to Council on 16 February 2017 to reflect Cabinet’s recommendation that there be no council tax increase in 2017/18; and
(ii) may make minor adjustments to the report and the prudential indicators should they prove necessary prior to its submission to Council.