To receive a report from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) reviewing the revised draft General Fund budget changes identified and discuss any further changes required in order for the Council to move towards a balanced budget for 2020/21.
This report will be considered by the Cabinet on 16 January 2020. The Homes Policy Development Group are asked to feed back any comments they may have to the Cabinet for their meeting on 13 February before the budget is finally agreed by Council on 26 February 2020.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) presenting the revised draft budget changes identified and discussing any further changes required in order for the Council to move towards a balanced budget for 2020/21. This report had been considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 16 January 2020, however, the Group were asked whether they wished to feed back any further comment to the Cabinet for them to consider at their meeting on 13 February before the budget was finally approved by Council on 26 February.
The contents of the report were outlined with an explanation that the next budget report to the Cabinet would legally need to show a balanced position.
As an update to the Group it was reported that the Cabinet, at its meeting on 16th January, had resolved that a payment be made in advance of the next 3 Years’ Pension Deficit and that there be a minimum General Reserves (General Fund) limit of £2m. It was also reported that there was an amendment to the car parking charges proposal that would increase the overall deficit position by £57k.
Key messages within the report included the following:
· The Council had been notified by the Devon Pension Fund that the employers’ contributions for 2020/2021 needed to increase from 14.7% to 16.6%, this added £177k to the Council’s costs but was partly offset by a reduction in the lump sum payment of £134k as shown in Appendix 2 of the report.
· The Council needed to finalise the Business Rates forecast to Central Government by the end of January, however, the Council had a Business Rates Smoothing Reserve which would help to address the volatility of Business Rates and the impact of appeals.
· The Final Settlement from Central Government rarely changed from what was provisionally announced in December each year. Unless any further savings were proposed the default position in order to balance the budget would be to make a transfer from reserves which would be the last resort. The situation for 2021/2022 was looking like leading to an even bigger budget gap.
Discussion took place with regard to:
· The proposed saving to remove the budget for the weed team. It was felt that the parishes in particular made use of this service and the appearance of the district was important to a great many people. The removal of this saving would add c£53k to the budget gap.
· The capital budget in relation to the Pannier Market; the revenue proposal in the report being the cheaper of two considered options.
· The budget in relation to the Tiverton Bus Station and the proposal to increase the cost ‘per visit’ by a further 5p.
RECOMMENDED to the Cabinet that the proposed savings identified in relation to the weed team be removed and that the budget in this area be retained.
(Proposed by Cllr C Eginton and seconded by Cllr R J Dolley)
Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.