The Executive Councillor for Resources, Councillor J A Gray to present for approval –
v The 2020/21 Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2021/22 – 2024/25;
v The Fees and Charges Schedule for 2020/21
v The Treasury Management Strategy, the Capital Strategy and the Investment Strategy including the annual prudential indicators and the Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Strategy for 2020/21
v The Annual Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Statement 2020/21;
v The formal resolution to determine the Council Tax for 2020/21.
In accordance with Section 30 (2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Council will be required to approve resolutions as to the levels of Council Tax in 2020/21.
In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, the Council will be asked to resolve that a recorded vote be taken on the conclusion of the debate on this item.
(Notes: 30 Minutes Presentation
30 Minutes for Questions).
(The reports were considered by the Cabinet at their meeting on 13th February 2020 and it was agreed that they should be recommended to Council for approval).
In conjunction with a report by the Head of Resources and PowerPoint presentation (copies of which are appended in the Minute Book), Councillor J A Gray, Executive Councillor for Strategic Resources, presented to Members the 2020/21 Revenue Budget, the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the period 2021/22 to 2024/25, the Fees and Charges schedule for 2020/21, the Treasury Management Strategy, the Capital Strategy, the Investment Strategy and the Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Strategy for 2020/21 and other associated matters for the Council’s consideration and approval.
In accordance with Section (30)2 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Council also considered proposals for levels of Council Tax in 2020/21 for various parts of the Huntingdonshire district.
In his opening remarks on completion of the Budget and MTFS, Councillor Gray referred to the time and effort involved with the long process that began in May 2019 and conveyed his gratitude to the Officers that had assisted, including the Managing Director and her staff, as well as the S151 Officer in the guise of Mr C Mason that had commenced this work at the beginning and had been concluded by Mrs C Edwards and well as his Cabinet Member colleagues.
Members attention was drawn to the Plan on a Page for the Council that had shown a clear strategy for a sustainable and balanced budget including a proposed Council Tax increase of 2.6% for 2020/21. It was noted that the proposed budget deficit by 2024/25 was now £0.5m compared with £1.25m in 2020/21 and this had been achieved whilst retaining and enhancing core services, as well as delivering the Conservative Party manifesto set out by the Group in 2018.These included a dramatic drop in the use of B & B accommodation for homelessness, continuation of a free green waste collection service, increasing recycling rates, investment in Hinchingbrooke Country Park, a new Local Plan channelling housing and employment growth, One Leisure capital investment and an effective Transformation programme structured at providing a vision, direction and financial stability to enable residents to thrive.
Members noted that the revenue changes to the budget in respect of savings and additional income, service growth and capital had resulted in a net increase of 3% of the Council’s budget as growth bids had been larger than anticipated, as well as some targets proven to be more stretching than originally planned resulting in schemes being put back in the budget.
In referring to the Commercial Investment Strategy (CIS), Councillor Gray explained that the Council had been close to completing the work set out after the CIS in 2015 that had been an important income stream to enable a balanced budget without the reliance on Central Government funding and the focus looking forward to the development of housing related acquisitions. Reference was also made to the budget assumption that Council Tax would increase by 2.6% per annum across the term of the MTFS.
Members attention was drawn to the impact on the revenue reserves with the removal of the grant settlement from Government, increase in Council Tax and the savings, income and growth in the budget, together with the expectation of a minimum level of reserves of 15% but may be impacted if the Council takes the decision with regard to future investment in the town centres but would ensure that the Council were kept informed of any such impact.
Councillor Gray drew attention to an increase in the draft Capital Programme and the importance of the inclusion of such investments as the funding of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) to enable individuals to remain in their own homes with adaptations. Further attention was also drawn to the Treasury Management activity that the Council was expected to undertake during 2020/21 in terms of its borrowing and investments, with the policy expected to mirror previous years in terms of affordability and reducing overall treasury risk.
In concluding, Councillor Gray reported to Members that the proposed budget for 2020/21 should not give Members significant concerns over the Council’s financial position and represented a sound and balanced budget.
Councillor Gray moved the recommendations which were duly seconded by the Executive Leader, Councillor R Fuller.
In response and on behalf of the HDC Independent Group and Leader of the Principal Opposition Group, Councillor T D Sanderson thanked Councillor Gray for his presentation and the contribution by Mrs Edwards as S151 Officer. In so doing, he commended the continued contribution to DFGs and reduction in spend on temporary accommodation for the homeless but outlined his concern that that Council still continued to face significant financial challenges with a deficit of nearly £0.5m by the end of the MTFS. He further referred to the improvements with more modest financial projections for One Leisure and although supported the inclusion of Civil Parking Enforcement suggested that this went against the recent introduction of the Council’s Car Parking Strategy. In supporting the proposed Council Tax increase that had been presented in accordance with the average wage increase, concern was expressed that average wages had fallen in comparison in Huntingdonshire and questioned whether this would be reflected in the MTFS.
In response, Councillor Gray indicated that the concerns expressed regarding the deficit would be tackled and welcomed the realism with One Leisure budgeting, but this needed to be managed carefully alongside the turnover of the service and disputed the reference to the wage growth in Cambridgeshire but reduced situation in Huntingdonshire.
On behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor M Grice reported that although it represented a balanced budget, it was also heavily reliant on reserves and if the savings would not be achieved the risks to the Council could be similar to that of Northamptonshire County Council and losing ability to control the Council’s finances.
In response, Councillor Gray explained that the Council would be using reserves to cover a shortfall and money had been put into reserves in previous years to take account of any drops in income. He further disagreed with the statement that the Council had been heavily reliant on reserves but the budget surplus in previous years had been managed to take account of requirements in future years when they would be needed.
Councillor P Kadewere, on behalf of the Labour Group, applauded the administration in the delivery of the proposed budget and welcomed the decision to raise Council tax to protect key services but questioned whether the District Council could approach Central Government for additional funding.
In response, Councillor Gray explained that there would be no opportunity for further Government grants following the announcement of the spending and fair funding review but had been pushing hard on the latter for it to work in the Council’s favour based on its needs and resources.
Councillor D B Dew, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Performance and Growth) explained to Members that the budget process had allowed all Members an opportunity to get involved in the budget setting process this year but had been disheartened to hear some feedback from Members and the decision taken to adopt an alternative strategy in previous years with contribution to reserves in light of the Government grant uncertainty had been the correct approach, otherwise the Council would be in a far worse position. Councillor Dew referred to the alternative budget that had been presented by the HDC Independent Group and encouraged other Groups to engage with the process at an early opportunity in July to start discussions.
In concluding the debate, Councillor Fuller, Executive Leader, refuted most of the opposition group’s comments and was offended by the Liberal Democrat’s suggestion that the Council was anywhere near Northamptonshire and suggested that this clearly indicated their lack of understanding of the budget process. In referring to the Civil Enforcement Parking proposal, he indicated that a commitment had been made to investigating a scheme and this would be presented through the normal cycle of meetings.
With reference to a suggested lack of vision in the budget, Councillor Fuller referred to the lack of engagement, with the exception of the HDC Independent Group, of all groups for alternative budget proposals. It was an essential requirement of the Council to set a budget in the interests of the communities and that supported the needs of the residents who required the services the most. Without the investment in the CIS the Council would be facing a large deficit in the MTFS and the Council had also committed to re-investment in High Streets, DFGs, homelessness and rough sleeping. Councillor Fuller concluded by reference to the delivery of services to support the changing future of Huntingdonshire in a positive way and urged Members to be proud of the benefits that could be delivered.
It having been previously moved and seconded, upon being put to the vote it was further
a) that the proposed overall Budget 2020/21 and Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2021/22 to 2024/25 (Appendix 1) to include the Revenue Budgets at Section 2, the Capital Programme at Section 3 and the 2020/21 Fees and Charges at Section 7, Annex A;
b) that an increase of 2.6% Council Tax for 2020/21 be approved, i.e. the Band D Charge will increase to £145.86;
c) that the Council note the Council Tax Base for the whole Council area and individual Towns and Parishes (para 6.2) as approved by Cabinet on the 4th December 2019 (and subsequent publication as a key decision).
The tax base (T) which is the amount anticipated from a District Council Tax of £1 is £62,854;
d) that the following amounts calculated by the Council for 2020/21 in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended by the Localism Act 2011 (the Act), the Local Government Finance Act 2012 and associated regulations :-
i. the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 31A(2) (a) to (f) of the Act
Gross revenue expenditure including benefits, Town/Parish Precepts £79,755,973
ii. the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 31A (3) (a) to (d) of the Act
Revenue income including reimbursement of benefits, specific and general grants, use of reserves and any transfers from the collection fund. £63,134,970
iii. the amount by which the aggregate at (i) above exceeds the aggregate at (ii) above in accordance with Section 31A (4) of the Act
This is the “Council Tax Requirement” including Parish/Town Precepts (item i minus item ii). It is the cash sum to be funded from District, Town and Parish Council Taxes. £ 16,421,003
iv. the Council Tax requirement for 2020/21 divided by the tax base (T) in accordance with Section 31B (1) of the Act
District plus average Town/Parish Council Tax (item iii divided by District taxbase) £261.26
v. the aggregate of all “Special Items” referred to in Section 34(1) of the Act.
The total value of Parish/Town precepts included in i and iii above. £7,252,766
vi. the Basic Amount of Council Tax for 2019/20 being item iv less item v divided by the tax base (T) in accordance with Section 34 (2) of the Act
The District Council’s Band D Tax for 2020/21 £145.86
vii. the basic amounts of Council Tax for 2020/21 for those parts of the District to which one or more special items (Parish/Town precepts) relate in accordance with Section 34 (3) of the Act are shown by adding the Huntingdonshire District Council amount to the appropriate Parish Council amount in column "band D" set out in Table 1 attached.
viii.the amounts to be taken into account for 2020/21 in respect of categories of dwellings listed in particular valuation bands in accordance with Section 36 (1) of the Act are shown by adding the Huntingdonshire District Council amount to the appropriate Parish Council amount for each of the valuation bands in the columns "bands A to H" set out in Table 1 attached;
e) that the amounts of precept issued to the Council by Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Police Authority, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Fire Authority and for each Parish Council for each of the categories of dwellings listed in different valuation bands in accordance with Section 40 of the Act shown in para 6.3 attached be noted;
f) that, having regard to the calculations above, the Council, in accordance with Section 30 (2) of the Act, hereby sets the figures shown in para 6.4 as the amounts of Council Tax for 2020/21 for each of the categories of dwelling shown. This is the total Council Tax to be collected, incorporating the requirements of all of the relevant bodies, for each town or parish area;
g) the Council notes that, in accordance with Section 52ZB of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the basic amount of its Council Tax for 2020/21 is not excessive.
The basic amount at b(vi) above is not excessive as defined by the Government.
Tax Base 2020/21
Abbots Ripton 133
Alconbury Weston 292
Barham & Woolley 30
Brington & Molesworth 173
Buckden (incorporating Diddington) 1196
Bythorn & Keyston 150
Denton & Caldecote 27
Folksworth & Washingley 348
Great & Little Gidding 125
Great Gransden 446
Great Paxton 365
Great Staughton 326
Hail Weston 245
Hamerton & Steeple Gidding 53
Hemingford Abbots 332
Hemingford Grey 1282
Houghton & Wyton 782
Kimbolton & Stonely 598
Kings Ripton 84
Leighton Bromswold 79
Little Paxton 1552
Offord Cluny & Offord D’Arcy 530
Old Hurst 102
Old Weston 99
St Ives 6010
St Neots 11074
Southoe & Midloe 157
Stow Longa 69
The Stukeleys 864
Upton & Coppingford 89
Upwood & The Raveleys 434
Water Newton 41
h) that the future savings targets of £0.5m of Net Expenditure by 2024/25 be approved; and
i) that the 2020/21 Treasury Management, Capital and Investment Strategies, MRP Statement and Flexible Use of Capital Receipts Strategy be approved.
In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Order) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 the following Members voted for, against or abstained from the Motion -
For the Motion – Bellamy, Beuttell, Bull, Butler, Bywater, Clarke, Corney, Davies, Dew, Dickinson, Fuller, Gardener, Gaskin, Gray, Gulson, Kadewere, Keane, Masson, McGuire, Mead, Neish, Palmer, Prentice, Roberts, Tavener, Tuplin, Tysoe, and West.
Against the Motion – Cooper-Marsh, Diaz, S A Giles, Grice, Humphrey, Sanderson, Shrapnel, Smith, Terry and Wilson.
Abstentions – D A Giles and Maslen.