This report is being published as a separate supplement in parallel with this agenda.
The Head of Financial Services had submitted a report to propose a Medium Term Financial Strategy and the 2021/22 Budget for consultation.
Councillor Ed Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance & Asset Management, introduced the report in anticipation of the budget consultation which would go live following the meeting and which would conclude with a detailed budget discussion and debate at the Budget Council meeting in February. He drew attention to a few overarching factors in relation to the proposals. The impact of Covid-19 had been and would continue to be significant. The combined negative impact was expected to be about £29 million this year and over the following four years. Government support of about £8 million to date had been welcome but was not sufficient to compensate for the losses due to Covid-19 and the Council would continue to lobby for more. The Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review looked likely to provide some further limited relief. The Council’s ambition to protect front line services, particularly for the most vulnerable, was undiminished and at a time when the number of vulnerable residents had increased because of Covid-19. The ‘Oxford Model’ of protecting front line services in parallel with generating income had been severely challenged by pressure on income streams as a result of Covid-19.
Despite the good work which had been done to identify potential areas for saving alongside new potential income streams it was inevitable that a significant proportion of the Council’s reserves would have to be called upon. This was unwelcome as some of those reserves have provided an income, many of them had been earmarked for particular purposes and the reduction would reduce the Council’s future resilience. Some proposals, such as charging for removal of bulky items and garden waste, were being put forward reluctantly but necessarily.
Cllr Turner was pleased to note that dialogue with trade union colleagues about these matters had been very positive, this included proposals for a one year rather than multi-year pay deal. It seemed likely that there would be more changes between these proposals and the final budget than would normally be the case because of a changing financial landscape as a result of anticipated Government announcements. He concluded by paying tribute to the work of the finance team in particular who had worked hard to develop these proposals while having, also, to cope with an additional operational workload.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, drew attention to elements of the recently announced Government Spending Review. These included a 3 month extension to the compensation scheme for sales, fees and charges; neither the fairer funding review nor the business rates reset (now delayed until April 2022) would benefit the Council; the budget referendum limit remained at 2%; and the New Homes Bonus had been confirmed for 2021/22.
Cabinet noted the importance of making it as easy as possible for all residents to respond to the consultation by whatever means was easiest for them.
Cabinet was pleased to note that despite the very challenging financial environment, the proposed budget still managed to expand the Council’s commitment to reduced carbon emissions. This at a time when the national Climate Change Committee had just given its advice about the need for Local Authorities, among others, to improve their performance in this area.
The Chair concluded by thanking Cllr Turner, the finance team, unions and all those who had contributed to developing these proposals in such a challenging environment while still protecting the Council’s priorities as a far as possible.
Cabinet resolved to:
1. Approve the 2021-22 General Fund and Housing Revenue Account budgets for consultation 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 £23.403 million for 2021/22 and an increase in the Band D Council Tax of 1.99% or £6.25 per annum representing a Band D Council Tax of £320.17 per annum subject to confirmation of the referendum levels contained in paragraph 9 (c) of the report
b) the Housing Revenue Account budget for 2021/22 of £46.649 million and an increase of 1.50% (£1.57 per week) in social dwelling rents from 1 April 2021 giving a revised weekly average social rent of £107.03 as set out in Appendix 5
c) 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 Board Member for Finance and Assets 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 32-33 of the report;
4. Approve the payment into the County Council Pension Fund of £5 million in 2023-24 as referred to in paragraph 40 of the report; and
5. Agree to unpause capital schemes and items of revenue spend previously paused as referred to in paragraphs 55 and 94 of the report.
- Budget report V6 FINAL, item 99. PDF 803 KB View as DOCX (99./1) 473 KB
- Appendix 1 v2, item 99. PDF 73 KB
- Appendix 2 v2, item 99. PDF 241 KB
- Appendix 3 21-22, item 99. PDF 1 MB
- Appendix 4 HRA summary, item 99. PDF 426 KB
- Appendix 5 HRA Rent by ward for 2021-22, item 99. PDF 193 KB
- Appendix 6 capital v2, item 99. PDF 62 KB
- Appendix 7 Fees & Charges, item 99. PDF 1 MB
- Appendix 8 Risk Register 2021 FINAL, item 99. PDF 29 KB
- Appendix 9 Equalities Impact Statement Dec 2020 FINAL, item 99. PDF 261 KB