To consider the initial draft 2021/22 Budget and options available in order for the Council to set a balanced budget and agree a future strategy for further budget reductions for 2022/23 onwards.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a *report of the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) presenting the initial draft 2021/2022 Budget and options available in order for the Council to set a balanced budget and agree a future strategy for further budget reductions for 2022/23 onwards.
The Deputy Chief Executive (S151) explained that this was the first iteration of the General Fund Budget and that it was set against very challenging times. He explained that the Council was looking at a budget gap of £3m and that the draft budget had been based on assumptions around income flows and Government funding. He informed Members that the Medium Term Financial Plan was due to go to the Cabinet on 3rd December 2020.
He explained the main income flows were council tax and business rates receipts but these were not expected to return to pre Covid levels for at least 12 months.
He explained that the Council was currently contacting the Town and Parish Council’s with a request that they calculate their precept levels.
In response to a question asked about the viability of District Councils due to decreasing levels of funding from Central Government he stated that every council of every size was lobbying the Government for additional funding. He explained that the Council was lobbying the district MPs for additional funding, not because the Authority was failing but funding had been reduced in real terms by 50% over the last decade and that there was now a threat that services could be affected.
The Leader stated that there had been only one major failure of a Council in recent times but that there were many Authorities who were now in dire financial straits. That being said he did not feel that the Government was looking to introduce unitary councils at this point in time and that the white paper on local government reform had been put on the back burner for now.
In response to a question asked about the leisure centres the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) explained that the Council had dealt proactively with it’s customer base and that they would reopen as soon as national guidance allowed. He stated that the Council could claim back 75% of lost income whilst the centres were closed through the Governments Income Support Scheme and that they had made use of the furlough scheme.