The Board considered a report of the Operational Director, Finance, which outlined a recommendation to Council in respect of the Budget, Capital Programme and Council Tax for 2020/21.
It was noted that at the time of writing, the Cheshire Fire Authority and the Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner had not set their budget and Council Tax precept. However, final figures would be reported to Council when the information was available.
The Board was advised that the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), approved at its meeting on 14 November 2019, had identified funding gaps of around £7.9m in 2020/21, £15.1m in 2021/22 and £4.4m in 2022/23. The Strategy had the following objectives:
· Deliver a balanced and sustainable budget;
· Prioritise spending towards the Council’s priority areas;
· Avoid excessive Council Tax rises;
· Achieve significant cashable efficiency gains;
· Protect essential front line services and vulnerable members of the community; and
· Deliver improved procurement.
In terms of consultation, it was noted that the Council used various methods to listen to the views of the public, and Members’ own experiences through their Ward work was an important part of that process. Individual consultations had taken place in respect of specific budget proposals and equality impact assessments would be completed where necessary.
Appendix B outlined proposed budget savings for 2020/21, totalling £4.230m. The departmental analysis was shown in Appendix C and the major reasons for change from the current budget were shown in Appendix D.
The Board was advised the final Local Government Finance Settlement figures were awaited, along with confirmation on some 2020/21 grant allocations including the Public Health grant. It was confirmed that the Council would continue to participate in the pilot of the 100% Business Rates Retention Scheme, as part of the Liverpool City Region (LCR).
Further information was provided on the budget outlook, Halton’s Council Tax, Precepts for Parishes, Police, Fire and Liverpool City Region Mayor, the Capital Programme, Prudential Code and School Budgets.
Reason(s) for Decision
To seek approval for the Council’s Revenue Budget, Capital Programme and Council Tax for 2020/21.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
In arriving at the budget saving proposals set out in Appendix B, numerous proposals had been considered, some of which had been deferred pending further information, or rejected.
4 March 2020.
1) Council be recommended to adopt the resolution set out in Appendix A attached to the report, which includes setting the budget at £115,770m, the Council Tax requirement of £52.179m (before Parish, Police, Fire and LCR Combined Authority precepts) and the Band D Council Tax for Halton of £1,475.70;
2) Council be recommended to approve the revenue budget proposals for 2020/21 set out in Appendix B and Capital Programme set out in Appendix F, both attached to the report; and
3) from 1 April 2020 the level of Empty Homes Premium on dwellings that have been unoccupied for between 2 and 5 years remain at 100%. The level of Premium on dwellings unoccupied for more than 5 years be increased to 200%.