Agenda item

2024/25 General Fund Revenue Budget & Capital Programme update


The report was introduced by Cllr Leyshon and presented by the Section 151 Officer. During the debate the following comments and questions were raised:-


·       It was confirmed that the report was being presented at the Executive Committee on 6th December.

·       Approached Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities on capitalisation direction which was not a quick or straightforward process.

·       There was a legal requirement in engaging with the business sector in the coming months and informing of individual service changes. Major changes to services required full consultation.

·       It was estimated that, £36million of earmarked reserves could be freed up from earmarked reserves, which could be reported back in February to amalgamate these.

·       The finance settlement from Government was expected within the next two weeks.

·       This will confirm how much funding the council will receive and all individual grants and business rates. An accurate prediction has already been made of this.

·       The budget gap had decreased from £100 to £87 million. Live work on reductions in expenditure was ongoing across the Council would continue until council tax setting.

·       The capitalisation direction has to be approved by Secretary of State, the council can borrow to fund revenue expenditure although due to the borrowing costs of higher interest rates, freeing up reserves and generating capital receipts was considered a more efficient way of funding.

·       There was a tight timescale, up until February 20th to work towards budget setting and deliver this within financial year as a result of impacts of inflation and funding.

·       Report from September at Executive meeting set out the work on combining earmarked reserves would be ongoing, ensuring reserves would be repurposed where necessary and continue to hold onto earmarked reserves needed for specific tasks.

·       Disposal of assets, borrowing and transformation needed to be carefully managed with treasury management activity.

·       The committee requested that it would be helpful if there could be clarity over the previous reserves and which reserves were being reduced to balance the budget.

·       It was confirmed that there was a spreadsheet which could be shared offline which tracked which reserves had moved and changed from the previous councils. There had been a risk analysis produced of reserves as a whole.

·       There had been a development of budget options and this was ranked based on priority and deliverability.

·       Previous years savings and what’s been delivered and what is going to be delivered on savings in future years.

·       An assessment would be made on how much savings could be delivered, influence on what contingency could be held in the budget. The level of contingency is approximately 2% of budget.

·       Base savings and staffing cost profiles would continue into next year,  these decisions were needed on a permanent basis and incorporating existing staffing restructures.

·       All options would be consulted upon to enable residents of somerset to have the best opportunity of input. There were savings to be made looking ahead, some were attached to contracts in the next and future financial years.

·       This remained a complex picture. More engagement across the board with members of the public was required as more information became available.

·       A Full list of reserves was requested to be circulated to all members of the committee, who thanked all officers for their report.


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.


Supporting documents: