Agenda item

Financial Strategy Update

To receive an update on the Financial Strategy


The committee received a report from the Executive Director for Resources and Section 151 Officer on the Financial Strategy which detailed the current position of the Council`s finances and the recommendations made to the Executive which are intended to ensure the Council kept a tight control on it`s finances and to enable the Council to set a balanced budget for 2024/2025.


During the debate the following comments and questions were raised:-


·       It was confirmed that as a result of declaring a Financial Emergency there would be an extraordinary meeting of the Audit Committee in December to consider the Councils response.

·       More focus on the larger councils in similar positions, higher profile in the Country, so many organisations in the same situation.

·       The committee encouraged further awareness from local MP’s, ministers and secretary of state to request government action is needed to prevent reduction of services.

·       The Council continued to speak to DLUC on the capitalisation direction and future decisions to dispose of assets.

·       Concerns were expressed that the scale of savings being brought forward were to slow, more was required to go further and faster to meet the budget gap.

·       It was recognised that earmarked reserves needed to be reviewed, some were ringfenced but there could be some capacity in reserves to be repurposed for budget resilience.

·       The alternative option would be issuing of a section 114 notice if a robust budget could not be set next February.

·       Financial Strategy had been updated since the original approval in July.

·       The financial settlement was expected to arrive sometime before the end of the year before the budget is set for the next financial year.

·       It was likely that the budget gap would reduce but not be reduced to zero.

·       There has been no response from the minster for social care from letters submitted from Councillor Ruddle.

·       It was anticipated that three commissioners would be appointed per council should a section 114 notice be issued.

·       Under the exceptional support programme, the Council can borrow or use capital receipts to fund revenue expenditure.

·       A credible plan to reduce the budget gap to sign of for elected members to consider would be considered at a future Scrutiny meeting.

·       It was questioned if there would be a resolution to the longer-term problem of the Council tax base and issues in addressing the low base for future years to address budget gap. This issue would continue if budgets were still considered at an individual Council level

·       The Adult Social care precept was based on council tax and not numbers of people that require adult social care support.

·       The service challenge sessions from Service directors, was a key piece of work to present between now and February to discuss list of options across service areas to put a credible plan before members.

·       Executive had agreed a decision in principle in respect of the disposal of assets. A financial analysis was being worked through to assess the. £20m income built into assets the Council holds.

·       There were regular member briefings in addition to political group meetings to ensure all members understand the situation and the timescales.

·       Investment, Asset Disposals and then the devolutions to Parish and Town Councils.

·       Info on attendance can be provided by Dem Servces.

·       The 24/25 budget has to be signed off by the section 151 Officer as robust and assurance over levels of reserves. Members were reminded they have a legal requirement to set a balanced budget as part of budget setting.

·       It was understood that most councils will have dire warnings around the medium term in budget setting statements.

·       Progressing the vision for a smaller leaner council with fewer officers and offices would be streamlined before any progression of a section 114 notice.



The Chair thanked the officers for attending with the update for the Scrutiny Committee Corporate and Resources and concluded that the committee had considered the report and noted the information provided.

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