(1) The initial draft base budgets for 2021/22;
(2) Fees and charges for 2021/22;
(3) Adoption of the Council Tax Base for 2021/22; and
(4) The submission of the business rates return.
a) That Cabinet approves:
(i) The draft base budgets for 2022/23 as detailed in Annex A; and
(ii) The proposals for budget growth included in the table below
(iii) Draft fees and charges for 2022/23, as detailed in Annex D, for inclusion as part of the Budget recommendations to Council on 23rd February 2022;
b) That Council be recommended to approve:
(i) The Council Tax Base shown in Annex E, calculated as £46,172.42 for the year 2022/23;
(ii) Authorising the Chief Finance Officer to submit the National Non Domestic Rates Return 1 (NNDR1) to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by the submission date of 31 January 2022; and
(iii) Authorising the Chief Finance Officer to approve the annual uprating of allowances and non-dependant deductions in the Local Council Tax Support Scheme in line with national regulations.
Members received a report from the Deputy Chief Executive and Section 151 Officer which asked them to consider the initial draft base budgets for 2022/23, fees and charges for 2022/23, the adoption of the Council Tax Base and the submission of the business rates return. Along with the budget growth and approval of the uprating of allowances and deductions on the LCTS.
A summary of the draft base revenue budget was attached at Annex A along with detailed revenue budget breakdowns at Annex B and the Medium Term Financial Strategy at Annex C to the report. In addition, the proposed Fees and Charges were detailed at Annex D with the Council Tax Base shown at Annex E to the report.
The report advised that the initial draft budget was considered by the Finance and Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1 December 2021 with no issues raised. In addition, the annual budget had been out for public consultation, giving residents an opportunity to input directly into the budget planning process. Responses to the consultation had been positive and the results of this would be included in the next budget report.
Since the budget was presented to Scrutiny, officers had received the Provisional Local Finance Settlement and had updated the budget and forecast accordingly. This report also looked forward over the Medium Term Financial Strategy and outlined the Council’s approach to addressing the challenges ahead.
There were no alternative options outlined because the Council was obliged to produce an annual budget for scrutiny and approval.
The Cabinet Member for Finance introduced the report and highlighted the following amendments to the report: the dates quoted in the ‘Summary/Purpose’ section of the table should read 2022/23; and the reference to a Civic Pride Officer on page 17 of the report, should read Environmental Officer.
Councillor Coul went on to signpost Members to key areas of the report including the initial budget deficit of £830,000 which had been reversed resulting in a surplus and the initial government proposal of a reduction in New Homes Bonus of £1.8 million. The government had since reversed this decision but there was no assurance that this funding would continue past 2022/23. She warned Members of the potential for large changes ahead and reminded them of the rises in National Insurance contributions, fuel, food and energy prices.
Councillor Coul also reiterated the Council’s commitment to keeping costs low whilst maintaining the delivery of services and highlighted the increased costs in relation to the waste contract. New investment opportunities were being discussed with managers and officers had aimed to tighten existing budgets as much as possible. She reminded Members of the ongoing issues with the Council’s Leisure Centres and the running of two waste depot sites.
Councillor Coul concluded by stating that she was confident with the budget position, in the short and medium term, but warned that this was unlikely to continue. She therefore, proposed the recommendations as laid out and this was seconded by Councillor Mead.
Councillor Graham raised a number of questions including the financial arrangement with GLL Better Ltd and how confident officers were that the management fees would be paid. In response, Mrs Griffiths advised that the contract with GLL stated they had an obligation to pay these fees and GLL were expecting to pay them, however, it was noted that the leisure industry nationwide was not stable and operators were struggling.
Councillor Graham asked if negotiations with Ubico had been robust regarding a recent pay award, which he believed to be 15%, due to a shortage of drivers. In response, Mrs Griffiths explained that it had been agreed with Ubico that there was a need to increase drivers wags and this had been included in the budget and she confirmed that discussions had been extensive. The Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor MacRae advised that the Ubico staff would be eligible for the local government pay increase.
The third question raised by Councillor Graham related to section 3.5 of the report which dealt with play park repairs. Officers confirmed that there was a project running to establish costs and the Council were in discussions with the Town Council’s to take some of the play parks on. In addition, some Section 106 funding had been received and other areas of funding had been identified.
With regard to the Growth Board queries raised, and whether all authorities were paying the same amount, it was noted that the charging mechanism was complicated. Mrs Griffiths advised that central costs were split equally and confirmation had been received from the other authorities to this effect. However, each authority also paid additional amounts, as detailed in the report. Councillor Graham requested that updates on these areas be communicated to Members. Mr Hughes addressed the meeting and advised that, in addition to the work that the Section 151 Officer and her team undertook with the Growth Board, he would be advised of any authority that was not contributing, as part of the Chief Executive’s meeting.
Councillor Graham queried the increased costs relating to Street Fairs and Street Traders. He felt it was important to encourage street fairs to continue and was concerned that the increased costs to street traders was beyond the rate of inflation. Officers advised that the costs allocated to these items paid for cleaning up after the events, road closure fees and were a 5% increase overall.
Councillor Cooper addressed the meeting and thanked officers for responding to his previous questions. He reiterated his desire to know what aspects of income Publica and Ubico were looking at and stated that he did not feel that communications between them and Councillors was what it should be. He advised that the precept for Woodstock Town Council was being amended, asked for a response on his query relating to the marking of Winston Churchill’s life and repeated his previous question relating to solar panels on Council buildings.
Mrs Griffiths explained that with regard to the installation of solar panels, these were being considered as a potential capital investment opportunity. Councillor Coul confirmed that Publica and Ubico were exploring opportunities for income generation and reiterated that Councillor Cooper should pose his question regarding Winston Churchill to the Tourism Team, who had a budget for marking events such as this.
Councillor Mark Johnson raised queries relating to the Publica salary figure on page 18 of the report, the budget for play park repairs and the large difference in figures in Annex B which detailed the proposed Revenue Budget comparison to last year. Mrs Griffiths explained that the Publica salary figure originally quoted had been an estimate for the first draft. Numbers had now been agreed and updated in this version. With regard to the play parks, the £50k budget was an estimate and was not the S106 figure. Finally, the figure quoted in Annex B for, on page 27, was as a result of a one off payment to the pension fund in 2020/2021.
Having read the report and having heard from those present, Cabinet
a) Cabinet approves:
i. The draft base budgets for 2022/23 as detailed in Annex A;
ii. The proposals for budget growth included in the table below;
iii. Draft fees and charges for 2022/23, as detailed in Annex D, for inclusion as part of the Budget recommendations to Council on 23rd February 2022;
b) Council be recommended to approve:
i. The Council Tax Base shown in Annex E, calculated as £46,172.42 for the year 2022/23;
ii. Authorising the Chief Finance Officer to submit the National Non Domestic Rates Return 1 (NNDR1) to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government by the submission date of 31 January 2022; and
iii. Authorising the Chief Finance Officer to approve the annual uprating of allowances and non-dependant deductions in the Local Council Tax Support Scheme in line with national regulations.
- 20220108 budget report for Cabinet, item 74. PDF 571 KB
- Item 6 - Annex A budget changes by cost centre, item 74. PDF 256 KB
- Item 6 - Annex B - Comparison to prior year, item 74. PDF 79 KB
- Item 6 - Annex C - MTFS, item 74. PDF 69 KB
- Item 6 - Annex D Fees & Charges, item 74. PDF 549 KB
- Item 6 - Annex E Council Tax Base, item 74. PDF 533 KB
- Item 6 - Annex E Parish Precepts v2, item 74. PDF 114 KB