Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Strategy & Corporate Plan Update

The Corporate Strategy and Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) sets out the strategic direction and priorities for the Council as well outlining the financial context and challenges the Council faces over the next five years and the strategy that will be used to inform its annual budget process.


Councillor Richard Samuel introduced this item by saying that the Corporate Strategy and MTFS set out the aims this Administration  wished to achieve for communities, and sets out how the Council intends to finance these.


Councillor Samuel read out the following statement:


‘Our starting points are the budget position we inherited from the previous administration, our clearly stated manifesto commitments on which we were elected to run the council, and the prospects for income both from government and sources of revenue that we can raise ourselves.

Our manifesto commitments are being shaped into a new corporate plan for the council and work is underway to cost these commitments. This work will conclude with the setting of the 2020/21 budget in February.

Members will be aware that the full details of central government allocations are rarely available until December and so the projections before the cabinet today are the best available at the time of writing. Recent spending review announcements have already changed working assumptions and these are currently being update. For example the government have announced a reduction in the council tax referendum cap from 2.99 to 2% which reduces the maximum tax raising possibility by 900k. So members can expect further adjustments as time proceeds. Fuller details have been issued in the recently circulated briefing note.

The MTFS confirms the continuing funding challenges facing the council in areas of children’s and adult social services together with the continuing need to achieve economies. Whatever scenario is considered there will still be a need to generate economies through efficiencies or direct savings. I am proposing a change to previous practice. Previous savings have tended to be routed within departmental economies. In the future this is unlikely to be adequate to produce the levels of savings required. I am therefore intending to drive these programmes from the centre and reduce the number of savings plans accordingly. A new corporate transformation board will be established to oversee these programmes which I will chair.

The guiding principles behind the MTFS will remain largely unchanged:

Balancing the budget

Making provision for demographic and inflation and only adding new priorities where headroom is created.

Maximising every available source of income

Our manifesto means the competition for new resources is very crowded so we will be examining how we can create the headroom to deliver our programme as part of the 20/21 budget preparation and will report this at the time.

The high level estimates are set out in the report and I do not intend to repeat these but I need to emphasise that the assumed figures for council tax increases are only indicative and no decisions have been taken.

Turning to capital we need to ensure that the council can afford to run the same level of capital programme as in the past. Capital projects are funded either by use of external grant, receipts from asset sales, or by borrowing. The latter has a direct implication for revenue spending. We will therefore review all current capital schemes to assess their desirability and affordability, and prioritise those that meet our stated corporate priorities. However capital spending will still be required to support new investment and service improvement and key programmes with partners. To this end we will continue to work closely with WECA to deliver projects that meet both authorities’ priorities.

Lastly turning to risk within the MTFS. There are many risks set out in the report and I will be working with officers to tackle and mitigate each risk to ensure we can deliver our programme to the electorate.

In November and December we will be talking to local communities across B&NES about the future funding of our priorities and how they can influence the decisions we will make in February.’


Councillor Samuel concluded his statement by thanking officers for their hard work and commitment to take this matter forward.


Councillor Richard Samuel moved the recommendations.


Councillor Dine Romero seconded the motion by saying that this was essential strategy to enable this administration to deliver its priorities for the next four years.  However, the document reflected the unprecedented scale of financial challenge that the Council was still under, and on the growing demand for services provided by Children Services and Adult Social Care.  There would be a need for changes on how to create the headroom and where the funding would come from, and for that reason the Council would need to work with WECA to meet some of the funding opportunities.  It was also good that the administration have set up how they would communicate with different parts of community and engage them in their vision.


RESOLVED (unanimously) that the Cabinet agreed to:


2.1  Approve the attached Corporate Strategy and Medium Term Financial Strategy.

Supporting documents: