Agenda item

Budget & Council Tax 2020/21 and Financial Outlook

This report presents the revenue and capital budgets together with proposals for Council Tax and Adult Social Care Precept for 2020/21.


Councillor Paul Myers speaking as a resident of B&NES said that he felt let down by the lack of ambition in this budget.  He understood the pressure the Council was facing but had expected this budget to take further the manifesto commitments.  He commented that the Council Tax rise will hit the most vulnerable.


Councillor Vic Pritchard raised a query about why the Cabinet were not seeking a higher increase to the social care element of the budget which would then leave residual funding for public health.


In response to Councillor Pritchard’s query, Councillor Richard Samuel responded that practice in the past had been to pass forward the public health grant directly to public health, but the announcement expected from Government on 24th February would inform whether this would take place.  He did not expect a reduction but needed to have the details first.


Councillor Liz Hardman welcomed some positive aspects of the budget but expressed concern about the efficiency savings in Adult services and wondered if they were achievable.


Councillor Richard Samuel, in presenting this budget to Council, thanked officers, Scrutiny Panel members and the public for their contributions, in spite of the general election meaning that it had not been possible to do the usual range of engagement events.  He described a change in direction and new investment areas in climate emergency, transport and housing.  He outlined some of the highlights of the budget and explained a move away from cuts to staff and services partly from a Council tax rise, still resulting in the third lowest Council tax in the South West region.  He acknowledged the current funding gap for 2021/22 and hoped to be able to close that gap by the Autumn.


Councillor Tim Ball commented that they had not inherited a good legacy with the Park & Ride issue and expressed surprise about the lack of ambition comments. He commended this forward-looking budget, fully delivering on housing and development over the 4-year term, and one which would benefit all residents.


Councillor Joanna Wright welcomed the real changes in combatting rat running and congestion and was delighted in the focus on walking, cycling and low traffic neighbourhoods.  She described the budget as one which was good for health, social justice and the environment.


Councillor Neil Butters supported this budget and thanked Councillor Samuel and Finance officers in bringing this budget forward.  Councillor Butters described a steady state being maintained through Highways resurfacing schemes and state of the art gritters.


Councillor David Wood welcomed the extra investment this brought in for the residents of North East Somerset which went towards addressing the imbalance some North East Somerset residents felt.


Councillor Sarah Warren expressed her delight at the funding for climate emergency measures and improved capacity for citizen engagement.  She hoped for positive news from Government the following week regarding Bath’s Clean Air Zone.


Councillor Rob Appleyard highlighted the focus on prevention within the budget and the Adult Social Care Charging framework which would simplify processes at a very difficult time for people.  He thanked key officers who had contributed to bringing this piece of work forward.


Councillor Paul Crossley highlighted the positive news about libraries.  He commended the budget for identifying problems and building in early solutions such as the new staff member to address the Ash dieback problem, which would affect 95% of Ash tree cover in the area, offset in part by the replanting scheme.  He also commended the Archway project which was coming on stream in this budget year.


Councillor Richard Samuel responded to various points made during debate and called upon his Cabinet colleagues to drive delivery forward.


On a motion from Councillor Richard Samuel, seconded by Councillor Dine Romero, it was


RESOLVED (unanimously) that:


1.  The Cabinet recommends Council approves –


a)  The General Fund net revenue budget for 2020/21 of £118.25m and the individual service cash limits for 2020/21 as outlined in Annex 1 of the report;

b)  The savings and income generation plans outlined in Annex 2(i), priorities 2(ii), one-off allocations 2(iii), pressures 2(iv) in conjunction with the Equalities Impact Assessment Report in Annex 3 of the report;

c)  An increase in Council Tax of 1.99% in 2020/21 (an increase of £27.88 per Band D property);

d)  An increase of 1.99% to Council Tax for the Adult Social Care Precept is approved in recognition of the current demands and financial pressures on this service. This is equivalent to an increase of £27.88 on a Band D property;

e)  The movement in reserves outlined in paragraph 5.5 and the adequacy of Un-earmarked Reserves at £13.5m within a risk assessed range requirement of £12.3m - £13.5m;

f)  The Efficiency Strategy attached at Annex 4 to the report;

g)  The Capital Programme for 2020/21 of £109.507m including new and emerging capital bids outlined in Annex 5(i), planned sources of funding in 5.7.2, and notes the programme for 2021/22 to 2024/25 and that any wholly funded projects coming forward during the year will be added to the Capital Programme in line with the Budget Management Scheme;

h)  The delegation of implementation, subject to consultation where appropriate, of the capital programmes set out in Annex 5(ii) to Annex 5(iv) to the relevant Director in Consultation with the appropriate Portfolio Holder;

i)  The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) allocations and amendments outlined in Annex 5(v) of the report;

j)  The Capital & Investment Strategy attached at Annex 6 of the report;

k)  The MRP Policy attached at Annex 7 of the report;

l)  The Capital Prudential Indicators outlined in 5.7.8

m)  The Annual Pay Policy Statement at Annex 9 of the report;

n)  The Council Tax Support Scheme for 2020/21 shown in the following link:  and referred to in 5.3.4;

o)  The Adult Social Care Charging and Financial Assessment Framework at Annex 10 of the report;

p)  The Direct Payment Policy at Annex 11 of the report;


2.  That the Council include in its Council Tax setting, the precepts set and approved by other bodies including the local precepts of Town Councils, Parish Councils, and Charter Trustees of the City of Bath, and those of the Fire and Police Authorities.


3.  That Cabinet note the S151 Officer’s report on the robustness of the proposed budget and the adequacy of the Council’s reserves outlined in section 5.6 of the report


4.  Authorise the Council’s S151 Officer, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Efficiency, to make any necessary changes to the draft budget proposal for submission to Council.

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