The Leader of the Council introduced the Draft Budget Proposals.
In so doing, particular reference was made to:
1. A one-off services grant in addition to the New Homes Bonus Grant being rolled forward and the continuation with a lower tier services grant which was previously introduced. It remained a requirement for any council tax increases to be limited to the higher of 1.99% or £5 per year.
2. The report made provisions for a balanced budget for 2022/23 subject to the financial pressures. Contributions to ear-marked reserves of £209,350, the proposed use of £75,000 from business rates retention ear-marked reserves and use of £150,000 of new homes bonus funding were also recommended as part of the proposals.
3. Rough sleeping outreach post proposed to be made permanent and an increase in IT support costs.
4. The business rates retention reserve of £1,260,000 could be partly used for smoothing out the volatility in income over the next three years.
5. The annual staff pay award had not been resolved but a budget provision of 2% was contained within the cost pressures.
6. Funding of £122,000 had been set aside to deliver some of the actions contained within a Plan for West Devon. £172,084 of new homes bonus grant was proposed to be included in an affordable housing reserve.
7. Revenue on car parking income was expected to be £69,000 down on budget however this would be partly offset by planning income being anticipated is expected to be about £30,000 over budget.
In response to Member questions the Leader confirmed that the Council’s property investment portfolio was performing well. Clarification was given on the staff pay award. The employers offer to the Union was 1.75% and the Council had budgeted for a 2% increase. The pay award was still going through negotiations.
It was then RESOLVED:
That the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee were sought on the content of the Revenue Budget Proposals report for 2022/23.
Committee support was expressed for:
i) The proposed increase in Council Tax for 2022/23 of £5 (Band D of £246.63 for 2022/23 – an increase of 10 pence per week or £5 per year – equates to a 2.07% increase);
ii) The financial pressures shown in Appendix A of £689,000;
iii) The net contributions to Earmarked Reserves of £209,350 as shown in Appendix A, including the proposed use of £75,000 from the Business Rates Retention Earmarked Reserve as set out in 3.21 of the report;
iv) That the Council transfers £162,850 into a Financial Stability Earmarked Reserve in 2022/23, to be available for any future financial pressures from future local government funding reforms and any other budget pressures;
v) To use £150,000 of New Homes Bonus funding in 2022/23 to fund the Revenue Base Budget as set out in 3.30 of the report
vi) That £172,084 of the New Homes Bonus grant allocation for 2022/23 is allocated to an Affordable Housing Earmarked Reserve as a one-of contribution for 2022/23 as set out in 3.30 to 3.31.
vii) The savings of £221,000 as shown in Appendix A; and
viii) The proposed Capital Programme Proposals for 2022/23 of £835,000 and the proposed financing of the Capital Programme as set out in Appendix D.
ix) That Unearmarked Reserves should continue to have a minimum level of £900,000 (as set in the Medium Term Financial Strategy in September 2021), but an operating level of a minimum of £1.25million.
x) That the Committee notes that West Devon Borough Council will continue to be part of the Business Rates Pool for 2022/23 as per 3.23