Issue - meetings

General Fund Revenue Budget 2025-26 and Medium-Term Financial Plan 2025-26 to 2027-28

Meeting: 07/02/2024 - Council (Item 11.)

11. General Fund Revenue Budget 2024-25 and Medium-Term Financial Plan 2024-25 to 2026-27 pdf icon PDF 352 KB

Additional documents:


Meeting: 25/01/2024 - Executive (Item 53)

53 General Fund Revenue Budget 2024-25 and Medium-Term Financial Plan 2024-25 to 2026-27 pdf icon PDF 351 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Decision:

To recommend the following to Council (at its Budget Meeting on 7 February 2024):

1.     That the General Fund Budget for 2024/25 as summarised in Appendix 1, incorporating the budget variations included at Appendix 2, be approved.

2.     That a 2.99% increase in Guildford Council’s Band D Council Tax Charge for 2024/25, be approved with resultant increases to the other council tax bands.

3.     That the Council’s existing Local Council Tax Support Scheme, with uprating as set out in Appendix 6 and the £40,000 discretionary hardship fund that runs alongside it, be continued.

4.     That, from 1 April 2025, the Council varies its determination of 26 February 2019 under Section 11B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, so that the long-term empty dwelling levy starts after a property has been empty and unfurnished for one year. 

5.     That, from 1 April 2025, the Council will charge a premium (levy) of 100% on periodically used dwellings as defined by section 11C of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

6.     That the schedule of Fees and Charges, as set out in Appendix 3 to this report, be approved. 

7.     That the use of the 2023-24 underspend as set out in paragraph 8.5 of this report, be approved.

Reason(s):

1.       The General Fund Budget is a major decision for the Council and setting a balanced budget is a statutory requirement.

2.       Scrutiny of these MTFP and Budget proposals demonstrate transparency and good governance.

3.       The Council has been well positioned to respond to these challenges and whilst the latest MTFP for the subsequent years ending 2026/27 continues to project future financial pressures, and opportunities, the Council is able to take action to ensure sufficient funding is in place to deliver and maintain services.

Other options considered and rejected by the Executive:

None.

Details of any conflict of interest declared by the Leader or lead councillors and any dispensation granted:

None.

Minutes:

The S.151 officer introduced the report that set out the draft General Fund Budget for 2024/25 and Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2024-25 to 2026/27. The Executive was reminded that all of the proposed actions to achieve a balanced budget for next year were set out in the appendices to the report.

An underspend of just under £1.1 million was projected for the current year and this would be directed towards a number of actions to achieve a balanced budget for next year. It was confirmed that the Council was currently no longer at risk of declaring a S.114 notice.

The detail of the Local Government funding settlement was yet to be announced, but it was estimated that Guildford would receive an additional £165,000. Nationally, it was thought that higher awards would be directed towards upper tier authorities with responsibilities for schools and social care.

The Executive was referred to the S.25 report and heard that workstreams had been continuing on the 2024-25 budget and the £18.3m MTFP gap as part of the Financial Recovery Plan agreed in August 2023, including the capital expenditure review and the proposed asset disposal programme. The outputs from the various workstreams had reduced the budget gap by £15.9m. The MTFP set out the key work streams for the Council to focus on over this period which, aimed to address the remaining £2.4m budget gap across the MTFP period and to prepare for future capital financing costs and funding risks.

The Executive was advised that strengthened financial reporting and processes needed to be embedded to form the foundations of a financially resilient council.

The Executive noted that considerable progress had been made since reporting to Council in July 2023, but the agreed savings plans needed to be delivered and the remaining budget gap still needed to be addressed.

The Executive thanked the Financial Services team and officers across the Council who had worked collaboratively to reduce the budget gap, and

RESOLVED:

To recommend the following to Council (at its Budget Meeting on 7 February 2024):

1.     That the General Fund Budget for 2024/25 as summarised in Appendix 1, incorporating the budget variations included at Appendix 2, be approved.

2.     That a 2.99% increase in Guildford Council’s Band D Council Tax Charge for 2024/25, be approved with resultant increases to the other council tax bands.

3.     That the Council’s existing Local Council Tax Support Scheme, with uprating as set out in Appendix 6 and the £40,000 discretionary hardship fund that runs alongside it, be continued.

4.     That, from 1 April 2025, the Council varies its determination of 26 February 2019 under Section 11B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, so that the long-term empty dwelling levy starts after a property has been empty and unfurnished for one year. 

5.     That, from 1 April 2025, the Council will charge a premium (levy) of 100% on periodically used dwellings as defined by section 11C of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

6.     That the schedule of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53


Meeting: 11/01/2024 - Joint Executive Advisory Board (Item 10)

10 Business Planning - General Fund Budget 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A report regarding the General Fund Revenue Budget 2024-25 and Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2024-25 to 2026-27 was before the Joint Executive Advisory Board (JEAB) for consideration.  The report was introduced by the Lead Councillor for Finance and Property and presented by the Joint Executive Head of Finance and S151 officer, who sought councillors’ views thereon.

 

The JEAB was advised that in July 2023 the Council considered a report which detailed a MTFP with a funding gap of £18.3 million and highlighted that the Council was at significant risk of potentially having to serve a Section 114 Notice.  Much work was undertaken during the following six months to reduce this gap.  The initial focus had been on short term measures such as ceasing discretionary spend, introducing a vacancy freeze and reviewing all budgets to achieve a balanced in year position.  A mixture of permanent changes and one-off reductions had been introduced.  Some of the latter would need to be addressed on an ongoing basis for the new financial year.

 

The next factor to address the funding gap was the preparation of a Financial Recovery Plan.  The first iteration of the Plan was submitted to Council in September 2023 and the second edition in October confirmed that the Council would not need to issue a Section 114 Notice as sufficient financial recovery had been achieved to avoid it at that stage.  A further update in December focused on changes to the Capital Programme and the Asset Disposal Programme.  All these measures had culminated in the MTFP gap being reduced by £15.9 million and the Council being able to achieve a balanced budget for 2024/25, which was before the JEAB for consideration.

 

The key budget headlines were:

 

·           An assumed Council Tax increase of 2.99% leading to growth in the tax base over the year of 1%.

·           The Finance Settlement showed a reduction in the New Homes Bonus of £600,000 and a cut in the Services Grant of approximately £100,000 which were off set by a rise in the Funding Guarantee Grant giving an overall position of an increase in grant year on year of approximately £147,000.

·           Cost pressures were resulting from the impact of inflation.  Although there was an assumption of a 4% pay award increase, this had not yet been agreed with the Union.

·           The Capital Review had resulted in a Capital Programme reduction of £96 million.

·           The Asset Disposal Programme was aiming to deliver £50 million of capital receipts targeted at years two and three of the MTFP.  This Programme together with the Capital Review would assist with reducing the Council’s future borrowing and the debt previously expected to reach £600 million by the end of the decade would be more likely to peak at £450 million.

·           A number of policy changes were being made including treatment of interest payable in respect of large capital projects involving capitalising costs and paying them at the completion of the project.

·           Adjustments were being made to reduce interest payments relating to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10