The Committee considered the proposed Budget for 2017/18 updated Medium Term Financial Plan 2017/18 – 2020/21, together with the HRA Financial Improvement Plan 2017/18 – 20/21, the proposed Efficiency and Rationalisation Strategy 2017/18 – 2020/21 and proposed Fees and Charges for 2017/18.
A balanced General Fund budget for 2017/18 has been achieved, with the inclusion of an efficiency and rationalisation target of £310,000 (as per the proposed Efficiency & Rationalisation Strategy) and the drawdown of £547,020 in reserves. A balanced HRA budget for 2017/18 has been achieved (with a contribution to balances) and an interim reduction to the capital programme has been made with schemes included on a priority basis pending stock condition information.
It was noted that, due to the timing of the achievement of savings as set out in the report, in future years there would be necessity to make further drawdowns from the contingency reserves which would result in a reduction in the General Fund contingency reserve to £1.4 million by 2020/21.
While the strategy proposed within the report was supported, in response to a query regarding the savings targets, members were advised that while there were a considerable number of uncertainties in the budget, a number of prudent assumptions had been made which would be kept under close scrutiny to enable mitigating action to be taken if necessary.
Concern was expressed regarding whether the level of resources within the Assets Team could meet demand, and members were advised that the Assets Working Group were addressing a number of issues relating to assets and that there had been discussions around prioritisation. It was acknowledged that the council’s assets did present an challenge, together with opportunities for the Council to make further savings.
That the Executive be requested to recommend that Council:
· Approves the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget for 2017/18 as detailed in Appendix A (section 8);
· Approves the revised Medium Term Financial Plan (2017 to 2020/21) as detailed in Appendix A, including the revised Capital Programme (attached at Annex A & B);
· Approves the proposed HRA Business Plan – Financial Improvement Plan 2017/18 – 2020/12 as detailed in Appendix B;
· Approves the proposed Efficiency & Rationalisation Strategy for 2017/18 – 2020/21 as detailed in Appendix C;
· Approves the proposed Fees and Charges for 2017/18 as detailed in Appendix D;
· Approves a Band D Council Tax of £181.11 for 2017/17 (increase of 1.9%);
· Approves the following HRA Charges:
o Dwellings rents to reduce by an average of 1% (over 52 weeks) from £71.47 to £70.73 average per week
o Garage rents to be increased by 1% (over 52 weeks) from £6.10 to £6.16 average per week
o Other charges including service charges to increase by a maximum of 1%
o Fuel charges at individual blocks have been reviewed based on 2015/16 fuel costs, the individual charges are detailed in paragraph 8.4 of Appendix A;
· That the view of the Chief Finance Officer that the level of reserves is adequate for the Council based on this budget and the circumstances in place at the time of preparing it (Appendix A section 7) be noted.