Issue - meetings

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024/25 to 2026/27 and 2023/24 Budget

Meeting: 08/02/2023 - Cabinet (Item 114)

114 Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024/25 to 2026/27 and 2023/24 Budget pdf icon PDF 857 KB

The Head of Financial Services has submitted a report to present the outcome of the budget consultation and agree the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2024-25 to 2026-27 and 2023-24 Budget for recommendation to Council.

Cabinet is recommended to:

1.   Approve the 2023-24 General Fund and Housing Revenue Account budgets and the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Medium Term Financial Strategy as set out in  Appendices 1-9, noting:

a)    the Council’s General Fund Budget Requirement of £24.793 million for 2023/24 and an increase in the Band D Council Tax of 2.99% or £9.76 per annum representing a Band D Council Tax of £336.31 per annum;

 

b)    the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2023/24 of £51.572 million and an increase of 7% (£7.51 per week) in social dwelling rents from 1 April 2023 giving a revised weekly average social rent of £114.73 as set out in Appendix 5;

 

c)    shared ownership dwellings are increased in line with those of other social rents as discussed in paragraph 39;

 

d)    the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme as shown in Appendix 6;

 

2.   Agree the fees and charges shown in Appendix 7;

 

3.   Delegate to the Section 151 Officer, in consultation with the Deputy Leader (Statutory) - Finance and Asset Management, the decision to determine whether it is financially advantageous for the Council to enter into a Business Rates Distribution Agreement as referred to in paragraphs 20-22 of the report;

 

4.   Approve the payment into the County Council Pension Fund of £5 million in 2023-24 as referred to in paragraph 28 of the report;

 

5.   Implement the changes to Council Tax charges in respect of second homes and properties empty for more than one year as referred to in paragraphs 23-25 from 1st April 2024 when the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is enacted; and

 

6.   Note the application of the Council Tax Support Fund allocation as referred to in paragraphs 11-14 below.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Financial Services had submitted a report to present the outcome of the budget consultation and agree the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2024-25 to 2026-27 and 2023-24 Budget for recommendation to Council.

Councillor Ed Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management introduced the report, and highlighted changes which had been made since the consultation budget.  This included a one-off improvement in the Council’s financial position arising from the local government finance settlement.  However the decision to exclude leisure centres from the Government’s energy support package was unhelpful to district councils.  The settlement had also included Revenue Support Grant in replacement for the Housing Benefit Administration Grant.  This was likely to be lost in next year’s settlement, although the work of administering Housing Benefit would remain.  However, the benefit provided by the Revenue Support Grant in this year was helpful in terms of reducing the need to draw down from reserves.

Other changes had related to measures to improve the recruitment and retention of staff through the payment of market supplements, which would help to avoid the need for locum staff at a higher cost.  There were some new health and safety obligations which needed to be met, and funding had been extended for youth services.

More widely, the budget contained a focus on housing, with 942 new Council homes to be delivered over the next four years, representing a 10% increase in housing stock; significant support for homeless organisations; and a new Council Tax support fund.  Councillor Turner noted that in the present financial and economic environment, contributions from the Finance and Performance Panel, the Audit and Governance Committee, and Cabinet in terms of ongoing monitoring of the budget would be important.

The Head of Financial Services highlighted that the Council’s companies, which now contributed a substantial amount of income to the MTFP, were susceptible to volatility, and other areas such as commercial rents and other income streams may also be adversely affected in the current financial climate.  Uncertainty around Fairer Funding also remained.  However, the additional contribution of £600,000 back into reserves, as compared to the proposals contained in the consultation budget, was very welcome in order to maintain the financial resilience of the Council.

The Chair thanked officers and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Asset Management for delivering a balanced budget in a difficult financial environment which would enable continued delivery of the Council’s priorities.

It was noted that there were some typographical errors in the report which required correction: in particular, the title of table 9 should read ‘Oxford Direct Services Revenue 2021-22 to 2025-26’.

Cabinet resolved to:

1.   Approve the 2023-24 General Fund and Housing Revenue Account budgets and the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Medium Term Financial Strategy as set out in  Appendices 1-9, noting:

a)    the Council’s General Fund Budget Requirement of £24.793 million for 2023/24 and an increase in the Band D Council Tax of 2.99% or £9.76 per annum representing a Band D Council Tax  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114