|Consideration was given to the final report in setting the Councils 2021/22 Budget and Council Tax and outlining the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) position to 2025. The report also included an update on the financial performance for 2020/21.|
The 2020/21 financial position had been significantly affected by the Covid Pandemic and the report showed significant financial pressures which had been funded by Government.
There were a range of pressures on the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2021 onwards which were not necessarily related to the pandemic and these had been reflected in the Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan. The financial position over the medium term was extremely uncertain, and as previously outlined to Members, would be affected by a further Government Spending Review, a potential Fair Funding Review and future proposals around Business Rates Retention.
The proposals in the Report would mean that the Council would have a balanced budget in 2021/22 and place the Council in a good financial position heading into a period of financial uncertainty.
The MTFP for 2021/22 to 2024/25 was attached to the report.
The report also provided an update on the financial position for 2020/21, and in particular the impact of the Covid pandemic. The Council had incurred significant expenditure supporting the response to the pandemic, including:
Covid Community Support Team, organising community response of food parcels, prescriptions and other kinds of help to the vulnerable during lockdown
Leading the local public health response including the approach to testing and track and trace.
Providing support to care providers
PPE and other direct Covid-19 costs
Organising grant payments and financial support for businesses
There had also been increased costs in maintaining vital services such as waste collection and there had been significant reductions in income.
The Report outlined the Council Tax proposals and Budget for 2021/22 and the indicative MTFP for the next three years.
It provided an update on the position from that reported to Cabinet and Council in February 2020 and in particular reflects implications arising from the Spending Round 2020 and the Local Government Finance Settlement for 2021/22.
The Provisional and Final Financial Settlements had provided funding allocations for 2021/22 only. This meant that the position for 2022/23 onwards, outlined in the report, needed to be treated with some caution.
The Council had a long history of providing value for money and delivering strong financial management which had again been reinforced by the External Auditor in his report to the Audit and Governance Committee in January 2021. As part of this approach, there was a strong track record of delivering savings and efficiencies and the Council remained well prepared for the challenges ahead.
Section 25 of the Local Government Finance Act 2003 required that when a local authority was agreeing its annual budget and setting its Council Tax, the Chief Finance Officer (Section 151 Officer) must report to it on the following matters:
The robustness of the estimates made for the purposes of the Council Tax requirement calculations
The adequacy of the proposed financial reserves
The Council was required to have due regard to this report when making decisions on the budget and this was attached to the report.
Cabinet had considered this matter at its meeting held on 18 February 2021 and a copy of the relevant minute extract had been circulated to Members.
Moved by Councillor Bob Cook, seconded by Councillor Jim Beall:-
1. That in accordance with the Local Government Act 2003, Members note that the Section 151 Officer confirms that the following recommendations:
a) represent a robust budget which has been prepared in line with best practice;
b) provide adequate working balances;
c) that the controlled reserves and provisions are adequate for their purpose.
General Fund Budget
2. Approve a 2021/22 Council Tax requirement for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council of £98,166,656.
3. Approve a 2021/22 Council Tax requirement for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council inclusive of Parish Precepts (£872,636) of £99,039,292.
4. Approve the 2021/22 budget and indicative 2021/25 MTFP as outlined in paragraphs 51 - 52, the level of General Fund Balances set out in paragraphs 31 - 32 and the one-off pressures set out in paragraphs 54 - 58.
5. Approve prudential borrowing of £10m to fund the additional town centres investments in Stockton and Thornaby (£5m in each) as set out in the Report to Cabinet on 18 February 2021.
6. Approve prudential borrowing of up to £10m allow the Council to negotiate the acquisition of Billingham Town Centre and undertake any immediate repairs and remediation work as set out in the Report to Cabinet on 18 February 2021
Business Rate Relief System
7. Note that the Chancellor is expected to make announcements regarding business rates and reliefs in his March Budget.
8. Approve the Council Tax for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council prior to Parish, Fire and Police Precepts be increased by 3.9%, which includes the Government Levy of 2% in respect of Social Care i.e. to £1,714.98 at Band D (£1,143.32 at Band A).
Fire, Police & Parish
9. The Council note the Police precept of £15,210,571 which equates to a Council Tax of £265.73 at Band D (£177.15 at Band A).
10. The Council note the proposed Fire precept of £4,598,145 which equates to a Council Tax of £80.33 at Band D (£53.55 at Band A).
11. The Council note the Parish precepts as set out in paragraph 78 of the budget report.
12. Approve the Capital Programme attached at Appendix A & B.
Organisational and HR
13. Council approve the Pay Policy Statement including the new pay and grading structure at Appendix C and C(1).
14. Approve that Members allowances are frozen for 2021/22. This will mean that these allowances have been frozen since 2013/14.
Council Tax - Statutory Requirements
15. Members approve the statutory requirements for Council Tax as shown in Appendix D.
16. Cabinet recommend to Council that the current Local Council Tax Support Scheme is retained for the financial year 2021/22 (see paragraphs 81 - 83) and that the Director of Finance, Development and Business Services be given delegated authority, in consultation with the Leader, to make further adjustments should the Government issue revised publications with regards to these matters after 24 February to ensure that the intended alignment is maintained.
17. Approve the Capital Strategy as set out at Appendix E to the report, including the Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Policy and the MRP Strategy.
Treasury Management/Prudential Code
18. Approve the Treasury Management Strategy as set out in Appendix F to the report.
19. Approve the Investment Strategy as set out at Appendix G to the report.
A recorded vote then took place on the motion.
For the motion:-
Councillors Helen Atkinson, Louise Baldock, Chris Barlow, Jim Beall, Pauline Beall, Carol Clark, Bob Cook, Nigel Cooke, Evaline Cunningham, Ian Dalgarno, Ken Dixon, Lisa Evans, Kevin Faulks, Luke Frost, Clare Gamble, Ray Godwin, Barbara Inman, The Worshipful the Mayor Mohammed Javed, Eileen Johnson, Paul Kirton, Ann McCoy, David Minchella, Mick Moore, Steve Nelson, Jean ODonnell, Ross Patterson, Maurice Perry, Lauriane Povey, Andrew Sherris, Norma Stephenson OBE, Mick Stoker, Marilyn Surtees, Steve Walmsley, Sylvia Walmsley, Paul Weston, Bill Woodhead and Barry Woodhouse.
Against the motion:-
Councillors Jacqueline Bright, Lynn Hall, Stefan Houghton, Stephen Richardson, Tony Riordan, Ted Strike, Laura Tunney, Hilary Vickers, Matthew Vickers, Alan Watson, Sally Ann Watson and Julia Whitehill.
The motion was carried.