Budget and Council Tax 2020/21
- Meeting of Council, Tuesday, 25th February, 2020 6.30 pm (Item 66.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 66.
Report of the Head of Finance
Presented by the Corporate Portfolio Holder
Councillor N J Rushton presented the report to Members.
He advised that recommendation 17 was no longer required approval following the approval of the last item and due to the Local Government Finance Settlement being decided. He informed Members of the changes to the budget consultation that had been introduced for 2020 which included early engagement with the Corporate Scrutiny Committee and enhanced public consultation.
In relation to the General Fund, he highlighted that the budget would deliver a surplus for of £630k and that it was proposed to freeze District Council Tax for the 11th consecutive year. He noted that the budget for business rates income had seen a significant increase as a result of business growth and that additional Council Tax had been budgeted for due to an increase of 2.5% in the council tax base as a result of forecast growth in the district.
Councillor N J Rushton stated that there was a specific recommendation included around increasing special expenses for the first time in 10 years, to cover the cost of managing services in these areas and outlined capital projects that would benefit from £23m that had been budgeted for.
In relation to the HRA budget, he noted that it was proposed to increase Council House Rents by 2.7% in line with the Government’s national rent increase formula and that the budget summary showed a surplus of £2.8m.
Councillor N J Rushton moved the recommendations as set out in the report with the exception of number 17, which had been removed. The motion was seconded by Councillor R Blunt who reserved his comments.
The Chairman referred to the amendments to the motion, which had been circulated in the additional papers. He invited Councillor S Sheahan to put forward his amendment.
Councillor S Sheahan moved the amendment to the budget. He stated that the Labour group wanted to give the creative industries a boost and support aspiring artists to get new workshop spaces by researching empty units that were available and could be utilised for that purpose. It was also proposed to support public art festivals through grants. In relation to Customer Service standards, he acknowledged that they had improved but felt that there was still a long way to go. Therefore, it was proposed to earmark £200k to invest in technology and staff. He stated that provision had been made for a Social Needs Support Worker, which would support the Council’s commitment to supporting victims of domestic abuse. He informed Members that it was proposed to put forward £20k towards improving air quality and a 1.7% increase in Council Tax, which would help to pay for many of the projects that had been detailed. The increase would also help to balance out the deficit in future years.
In relation to HRA he felt that switching Council properties over to a ‘Not for Profit’ supplier for energy was an excellent idea and it would not cost the authority a lot to do so. He put forward a proposal for ‘Decent homes plus’, which meant that rather than a tenant waiting for two items to require fixing they would only wait for one to fix under the new standard. He stated that it would cost £450k per year. He noted that new supply would eventually need to be supported by borrowing. He highlighted that the targets where not being hit for new supply nor was the administration keeping up with the right to buy losses. He expressed concerns that there was no capacity for new houses and the group felt that better decent homes was the way forward.
The motion was seconded by Councillor J Legrys who reserved his comments.
Councillor N J Rushton advised that the administration would not be supporting the amendment and reminded Members that they had the opportunity to bring forward their proposals during the scrutiny process. That would have allowed time for them to be considered and, should the proposals be approved a lot of work and additional cost would be required to initiate them. He highlighted that there had been significant spending on Customer Services and that the Council already offered support to domestic abuse victims through existing arrangements. He raised concerns over switching to ‘Not for Profit’ energy suppliers and reiterated that the Council was committed to providing decent homes.
Councillor R D Bayliss expressed disappointment that he had only had the opportunity to see the amendment that night and had not had chance to digest. He stated that the home improvement plan was not drawn up on a whim but planned years in advance and he agreed that some improvements where required to Customer Services but work was ongoing and new practices had been established. He concurred with Councillor N J Rushton’s concerns over the energy supplier switch and advised he would be voting against the motion.
Councillor J Legrys felt that it was a no win situation as the official opposition when dealing with budget. He stated that the amendment that had been put forward, even though it was likely to be rejected, attempted to outline concerns about how the authority could deal with the limited funds that were coming from the National Government. He highlighted that the amendment would allow residents to say that they were paying and receiving something back for it.
Councillor S Sheahan advised that he could have raised the points at scrutiny as they had done with the extra car parking and car charging points however, they were new points that the Labour Group felt would be better being considered by Council rather than scrutiny. He suggested that should Councillor N Rushton be concerned about getting the best value energy for the Council’s tenants then the contract for the not for profit energy supplier should be put out to tender, as the concern was to prevent tenants from getting into fuel poverty.
The Chairman then put the motion to the vote. A recorded vote being required, the voting was as detailed below:
The motion was declared LOST.
The Chairman referred members to the substantive motion as set out in the agenda.
Councillor S Sheahan advised that the opposition would be abstaining on the main motion. He advised that there were points that the Labour group liked but many that they could not support.
Councillor K Merrie spoke in favour of the budget before him. He thanked all officers involved and acknowledged the new council homes that had been built. He was pleased to see all the funding for regeneration and that Council Tax had been frozen once again.
Councillor T Saffell stated that at previous meetings he had asked about staffing figures and the number of staff that where agency. He felt that the cost of agency staff made took a huge part of the budget and requested that the figures be included in future reports.
Councillor M B Wyatt stated that it was the first time that he genuinely felt that his view on the budget mattered and the administration listened to new ideas. He praised the climate change fund and that the groups had the same visions in relation to the high street bid. He expressed concerns that any Leisure S106 monies that had been secured for the Coalville area should be used for the town centre, not the leisure centre. He advised that the group would be abstaining on the motion for this reason but thanked the administration for including them in the budget process.
Councillor R D Bayliss advised that in relation to new supply he referred to the MTFP, which detailed options for maintaining the housing numbers through purchasing stock, however it would take time. He agreed that it was crucial that the Council did not overstaff itself but if the services were to perform to the standard expected then maintaining staff levels was required.
Councillor R Blunt stated that since 2007 he had always ensured that the authority had balanced its books and it would be unforgivable if that were not the case by the end of the year. He advised that it was the administration’s number one priority to live within its means and to honour its election commitments, 27 in total, within the budget. He noted that the Council’s General Fund had a surplus of £630k and expressed concerns that the opposition than wanted to increase the Council Tax when the surplus was there.
Councillor N J Rushton advised that a report would be taken to a scrutiny committee relating to the staffing figures and the use of agency staff. He thanked Councillor M B Wyatt for his input during the scrutiny process and advised that the S106 monies collected for leisure could only be used for leisure hence why they were going toward the new centre that would benefit the greater Coalville area. He acknowledged that the district proportion of the Council Tax bill was the smallest but it was a big commitment. He informed Members that the Council was, for the first time in a long time, providing new rented accommodation for its residents. He highlighted one option would be to purchase new homes as there should be no difference between private owned homes or authority rented homes. He recommended the budget to be approved.
The Chairman then put the substantive motion to the vote. A recorded vote being required, the voting was as detailed below:
The motion was declared CARRIED.
It was therefore
1. The Medium Term Financial Strategy approved by Cabinet on 4 February 2020 be noted.
2. The S151 officer’s comments on the robustness of the estimates and adequacy of reserves be noted.
3. The General Fund Revenue Budget for 2020/21 be approved.
4. The Special Expenses Revenue Budget for 2020/21 be approved.
5. The District Council Tax in 2020/21 be frozen.
6. The Special Expenses Band D Council Tax as appendix 6 table c for 2020/21 be set.
7. The ground rent increase at Appleby Magna Caravan Site of 2.6% on the anniversary of each individual rent agreement in 2020/21 be approved.
8. The amendments to the General Fund Fees and Charges as detailed in appendix 3b effective from 1 April 2020 be approved.
9. The transfer of any General Fund surplus income over expenditure in 2020/21 to the Self Sufficiency reserve (currently budgeted as £630,368) be approved.
10. The increase in Council rents for 2020/21 by up to 2.7% be approved.
11. The increase in garage rents for 2020/21 by 2.6% be approved.
12. The decrease in central heating charges for 2020/21 by 10% be approved.
13. The average increase of 0.44% in service charge for 2020/21, as set out in appendix 4d be approved.
14. Increasing the lifeline charges for East Midlands Housing and private customers by 2.6% be approved.
15. Increasing shop lease rents by an average of 14% to gradually move them to market levels be approved. The approach was agreed by Cabinet in November 2014.
16. That the surplus Housing Revenue Account income be transferred to the loan redemption reserve, but that Cabinet maintains the ability to use the surpluses more flexibly now the reserve has sufficient money to repay the loans due in 2020 be noted. The approach was approved by Council in 2019/20.
17. The proposed General Fund and Housing Revenue Account Capital Programmes for 2020/21 and planned financing be approved.
18. The vehicle replacement programme for 2021/22 be approved.
19. The Capital Programmes 2021/22 – 2024/25 for indicative proposes only be approved.
20. The 2020/21 Capital Strategy (in line with the prudential code) be approved.
21. The following amounts for the year 2020/21 in accordance with Sections 31b of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended be approved:
(1) 34,585 being the amount calculated by the Council, in accordance with regulation 3 of the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base (England)) regulations 2012, as its Council Tax Base for the year.
(2) The amounts specified in appendix 6 table a of the report being the amounts calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 34 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as the amount of its Council Tax Base for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which one or more special items relate.
22. The following amounts be now calculated by the Council for the year 2020/21 in accordance with sections 31a and 31b of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended be approved:
(1) District/Parish gross expenditure
£59,786,409 being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in section 31a (2) of the act.
£51,542,070 being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in section 31a (3) of the act.
(3) District/Parish gross expenditure
£8,244,339 being the amount by which the aggregate at 23(1) above exceeds the aggregate at 23(2) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with section 31a (4) of the act as its Council Tax requirement for the year.
(4) Basic amount of tax (including average parish precepts)
£238.38 being the amount at 23(3) above, divided by the amount stated as the Council Tax base in parts of the Council’s area, calculated by the Council in accordance with section 31 b of the act as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year.
(5) Parish precepts/special expenses
£2,759.849 being the aggregate amount of all special items referred to in section 35(1) of the act.
(6) Basic amount of tax (basic council tax – District)
£158.58 being the amount at 23(4) above less the result given by dividing the amount at 23(5) above by the amount as stated as the Council Tax base for the whole of the Council area, calculated by the Council in accordance with section 34(2) of the act, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for dwellings in those parts of its area to which no special items relates.
(7) Basic amount of tax (Parished areas)
The amounts listed in column 5 of table b appendix 6 to this report, being the amounts given by adding to the amount at 23(6) above, the amounts of the special item or items relating to dwellings in those parts of the Council’s areas mentioned, divided in each case by the amount stated as the Council Tax base in parts of the Council are, calculated by the Council in accordance with section 34(3) of the act as the basic amounts of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its areas to which one or more special items relate.
(8) District/Parish Councils Tax rates
The amounts set out in table c appendix 6 to this report being the amounts given by multiplying the amounts at 23(6) and 23(7) above by the number which, in the proportion set out in section 5(1) of the act, is applicable to dwellings listed in a particular valuation band divided by the number which in that proportion is applicable to dwellings listed in valuation band d, calculated by the Council in accordance with section 36(1) of the act as the amounts to be taken into account for the year in respect of categories of dwelling listed in different valuation bands.
23. Major precepting authorities
The amounts set out in table d appendix 6 to this report are the amounts notified by Leicestershire County Council, Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Combined Fire Authority in accordance with section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as their precepts for 2020/21 for each of the categories of dwellings listed be noted.
24. Council tax base – all bands
That, having calculated the aggregate in each case of the amounts at 23(8) (table c appendix 6) and 24 (table d appendix 6) above, the Council in accordance with section 30(2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 hereby sets the amounts of Council Tax for the Council’s area for the year 2020/21 for each of the categories of dwellings as shown in table e appendix 6.
25. Referendums relating to council tax increases
The relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2020/21 is not excessive be noted.
- Budget and Council Tax 2020/21 Council Report, item 66. PDF 657 KB
- Appendix 1a - Budget Consultation Responses - General Fund, item 66. PDF 221 KB
- Appendix 1b - Budget Consultation Responses - Housing Revenue Account, item 66. PDF 226 KB
- Appendix 2 - 2020-25 Medium Term Financial Plan, item 66. PDF 2 MB
- Appendix 3a - General Fund Budget Proposals, item 66. PDF 150 KB
- Appendix 3b - General Fund Fees & Charges, item 66. PDF 137 KB
- Appendix 3c - General Fund Budget Summary 2020/21, item 66. PDF 204 KB
- Appendix 3d - Special Expenses Budget Summary, item 66. PDF 448 KB
- Appendix 4a - HRA Budget Summary 2020/21, item 66. PDF 32 KB
- Appendix 4b - HRA Budget Proposals, item 66. PDF 355 KB
- Appendix 4c - HRA Fees and Charges, item 66. PDF 153 KB
- Appendix 4d - HRA Service Charges, item 66. PDF 155 KB
- Appendix 5a - Capital Strategy, item 66. PDF 594 KB
- Appendix 5b - General Fund Capital Programme, item 66. PDF 516 KB
- Appendix 5c - HRA Capital Programme, item 66. PDF 56 KB
- Appendix 6 - Table A Council Tax Base, item 66. PDF 12 KB
- Appendix 6 - Table B Council Tax 2020/21 District and Special Items, item 66. PDF 21 KB
- Appendix 6 - Table C District, Parish and Special Expenses, item 66. PDF 34 KB
- Appendix 6 - Table D Police, Fire & County, item 66. PDF 9 KB
- Appendix 6 - Table E Council Tax 2020/21, item 66. PDF 34 KB
- Appendix 6 - Table F Band D Percentage Change, item 66. PDF 28 KB
- Alternative Budget Report, item 66. PDF 2 MB