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Scrutiny of the Draft 2023/24 Budget & Review of Council Strategy PDF 2 MB
Attached is the 2023/24 Budget Consultation Document.
Please use the following link to access the Council Strategy:
Sessions will be held with Cabinet Member and Directors for each scrutiny committee to discuss the draft budget. Members of this Committee will be in attendance throughout the day in order to identify any recurring themes and trends identifying the key areas they wish for inclusion in their report to Cabinet.
Members are advised to consider how effectively the proposed budget responds to:
o the changing needs of Gloucestershire residents and communities?
o the priorities and ambitions set out within the Council Strategy
o Any legislative or other changes in national policy or guidance
1. INTRODUCTION & COUNCIL STRATEGY
1.1. Cllr Mark Hawthorne and Pete Bungard introduced the context, revenue, and capital budget in turn. Members noted the following:
· The current Council Strategy remained sound and relevant as was published this time last year. What members needed to consider this time was how major events over the past year had affected the context of the budget and MTFS, such as: Ukraine, inflation, cost of living, NHS pressures, 6.4% Local Government pay rise, Prime Ministerial changes etc.
· The budget discussions and process started in July, before inflation had peaked, and at that point there existed a large gap between what services wanted and the likely funding that would be available. On that information, there was a series of Star Chambers through October, of which the main objective was to ensure funding was fairly allocated across the board.
· What still remained outstanding at this point was the Government settlement and what their rules on taxation would be, so the decision was taken to go out to consultation on an unbalanced budget on 8 December 2022, which is the consultation document published for today’s meeting.
· The Government settlement was confirmed on 19 December 2022 which allowed for a 3% council tax increase and 2% adult social care levy increase at council choice, and additional, targeted funding for frontline support.
· Cabinet will set a draft budget on 25 January 2023 and recommend it to full council for discussion at the 15 February 2023 budget meeting.
· This proposed revenue budget was £560m, which amounted to a £39m increase on the current year. The additional funding was: £13.5m for Adult Social Care, £17.6m for Children’s Social Care and £9.3m for Environment and Economy.
· There was also a built in Children’s Services reserve to try and reflect the difficulty in balancing out the children’s placements budget, in addition to £7.2m built into the budget itself.
· Balancing this budget had been challenging considering this year’s pay award (which settled at 6.4% but was budgeted at 2%) and inflationary pressures.
· The proposed increase would be paid for by using £10.3m from reserves, £8.4m from additional income (half of which was due to a better return on investments from increased interest rates) and £4.2m additional from Javelin Park due to the energy price increase.
· Whilst officers felt they were heading towards a balanced and good budget for this year, there was a warning for the 2024/25 budget as the council could not continue to use reserves in this way.
· Whilst acknowledging there was a period of uncertainty awaiting the Government settlement, Cllr Hawthorne paid tribute to the County Council network who did a fantastic job lobbying on many fronts.
· What resulted was a much better settlement than was expected, but this was against a backdrop of a higher pay award settlement plus the impact of inflation.
· Government also agreed to delay the implementation of the Adult Social Care Act by 2 years, allowing more time to discuss the true cost of the implementation for upper ... view the full minutes text for item 1.