The Cabinet considered a report of the Corporate Director of Resources which provided an update on the development of MTFP(12), covering the period 2022/23 to 2025/26 and on the development of the 2022/23 revenue budget in the light of the provisional local government finance settlement published on 16 December 2021.
The report included updated financial forecasts and provisional council tax strategy, subject to the outcome of further consultation, that will be presented to Cabinet and County Council in February as part of the budget setting reports (for copy of report see file of minutes).
Councillor Bell thanked officers for the report which provided a comprehensive overview of the provisional local government financial settlement, and updated forecast for next year and the following three years. He explained that this was the fourth report considered on mtfp 12 as they build up to the budget meetings next month. He advised of the detail behind the updated figures. In advising of the additional funding received from the government in the settlement, which was better than expected, it was disappointing that this was a one-year settlement only, and therefore there was uncertainty beyond 2022/23. This uncertainty was also impacted by not knowing the outcome of the governments fair funding review. This meant that financial planning was difficult, and they would need to be flexible in their planning approach. Work to start to address the savings challenges would commence after the council had agreed its budget in February. He explained that the report considered was not for setting the budgets for next year, those decisions would be made by full council on 23 February.
Councillor Wilkes set out the plans for investment of resources in front-line services which included investments in road sweeping and its technology, pest control, neighbourhood warden service, waste disposal, and to tackle climate change. He advised that he was sure the public would start to see improvements in service provision shortly, and that there would be more good news in the months to come.
Councillor Sexton referred to the size of social care service budgets for vulnerable adults and children, and that the cost pressures in these areas were enormous, and it was right to prioritise investment in these key statutory services. He welcomed the investment made in October in domically care to assist with recruitment issues.
Councillor Rowlandson supported the budget proposals and welcomed investments in allotments, countryside estate management, and the provision to address the current skills and enterprise gap within the community protection service.
Councillor Hopgood thanked all for their contributions in the meeting and officers in preparation of the report. She referenced the number of necessary revisions to the previous mtfp assumptions which build on updated forecasts for pay and price inflation, along with other unavoidable budget pressures in addition to the outcome of the financial settlement published late December. She explained that the updated proposals include significant investment to key front-line services which would make a difference to people’s lives.
As other members had, she also expressed her disappointment to the uncertainties going forward with only a one-year settlement from the government, and the impacts of the fair funding review casting a shadow over financial plans from 2023 onwards. She emphasised the importance of protection for those on low incomes and was pleased full council had supported the extension of the council tax reduction scheme. She explained the scale of the challenge beyond next year which would require some difficult choices to be made, and that planning for this would commence.
That the report be noted.