Agenda and minutes

Budget Council, Council - Wednesday, 7th February, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: John Armstrong, Democratic Services and Elections Manager  Tel: (01483) 444102


No. Item


Apologies for absence

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ruth Brothwell, Jason Fenwick, Steven Lee, and Katie Steel; and from Honorary Aldermen Catherine Cobley, Sarah Creedy, Jayne Marks, Terence Patrick, Tony Phillips, Lynda Strudwick, and Jenny Wicks.


Disclosures of interest

To receive and note any disclosable pecuniary interests from councillors. In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.


If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.


Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.


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There were no disclosures of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To confirm the minutes of the extraordinary meeting of the Council held on 23 January 2024.


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The minutes of the extraordinary meeting of the Council held on 23 January 2024 were approved as a correct record.  The Mayor signed the minutes.



Mayor's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Mayor.

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The Mayor reported that he planned to hold a multicultural Charity Gala at Holy Trinity Church, on 14 April 2024, the aim of which was to bring together, celebrate and showcase the diverse talent that existed within the borough.

Artistic Director, Nishi Joshi-Bhatt was excited to be involved with the project, and she and her group Nishi Dance Shakti would also be performing.  It was hoped that the gala would attract solo artists, and groups to showcase dance, music, vocal performances, and other original acts. 

Proceeds from the event would go to the Mayor’s chosen charity, The Fountain Centre, and The Mayor of Guildford’s Local Support Fund.


Leader's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council.

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Crowdfund Guildford

The Leader reported on the success of the Crowdfund Guildford scheme, which was supported by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and the new round of funding that was now available.  The Artventure Trust had been fundraising with Crowdfund Guildford and they had met their fundraising goal to create a sensory garden for art activities, gardening and a swing chair for clients with learning disabilities.  The Council had pledged £3,000 pounds towards their £10,691 goal alongside 41 other supporters in the community.


A new round of funding through crowdfund Guildford had been launched and councillors were informed that anyone with an idea that could help the community they could join the free workshop on Friday 8 March 2024, which would inform participants about the funding available including advice on how to run a crowdfund campaign. 


Garden waste subscription refunds

The Leader reported that there had been significant disruption to the Council’s garden waste bin service due to supply chain issues.  The delay meant that we had been unable to deliver garden waste bins to some residents within the expected timeframe. Some residents that applied for a new subscription part way through the year did not receive a garden waste bin in time to make full use of the service.  Consequently, it had been decided to cancel and refund in full their 2023-24 subscription.


If residents rejoined the garden waste collection service for the 2024-25 period, before 28 February, they would receive priority delivery of a new garden waste bin during March, in time for the new service year which would begin on 25 March.


Tom Horwood – Joint Chief Executive

The Leader reminded councillors that this meeting would Tom Horwood’s last Council meeting before leaving Guildford and Waverley as Joint Chief Executive. The Leader noted that Mr Horwood’s calm, professional approach in leadership of the organisation would be greatly missed and expressed gratitude for his commitment and dedicated public service. 


In response to a question, the Leader confirmed that the garden waste subscription refunds would be made to those persons who did not receive a bin.


Public participation

To receive questions or statements from the public.

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There were no questions or statements from the public.


Questions from Councillors

To hear questions (if any) from councillors of which due notice has been given.

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Councillor Richard Mills asked the Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change, Councillor George Potter, the following question:

“The Risk Register at the meeting of the Guildford and Waverley Joint Governance Committee on 24th January 2024, Risk 7, page 30, accepted at that meeting, indicates that encouraging ‘working from home as much as possible’ is a current mitigation measure against the perceived risk that the objective of delivering net zero carbon by 2030, might not be achieved.

Will the Executive Portfolio Holder for Environment and Climate Change advise:

(a)    how far this policy is currently being pursued?

(b)    how the level of home working by Council staff has changed over the period since the end of lockdown?

(c)     what contribution the policy has made, or is expected to make, to the reduction of carbon emissions in the Borough?, and

(d)    what assessment has been made of the costs and benefits of this policy including staff productivity and service delivery?” 

The Lead Councillor’s response was as follows:

“At the present time, GBC staff are allocated as either fixed or agile workers.  Staff who have been identified as agile workers are expected to spend at least 50% of their time in the office. 


However, that policy is currently being reviewed and the Council is looking at a number of data sources including: the approach being taken by other authorities in the region; the self-reported impact of agile working on staff health and wellbeing; and the feedback from team managers on the impact of agile working on their service delivery.   

In terms of the latter, the initial review of data suggests that the Council’s agile working approach has had a positive impact on recruitment, retention and, in some if not all cases, team performance.  However, it is clear that it can also have a less positive impact on team cohesion if not managed carefully.  

The future policy will need to respond to these concerns about team cohesion through planned, managed and structured team contact whilst also maximising the positive benefits of agile working in terms of recruitment, retention and minimising carbon emissions.  The Council will consult and engage with the staff and union representatives before making any changes to the current approach.  It will also consider the implications of any new policy before adopting it, including the implications on climate change.     

Bearing all of this in mind, the current description of staff being encouraged to ‘work at home as much as possible’ is not correct in terms of the current policy and is unlikely to be correct in terms of any future policy and so I have asked officers to recommend changes to that wording that can be considered by the Joint Governance Committee in due course”.

As a supplementary question, Councillor Mills asked the Lead Councillor whether he would agree that there was widespread recognition that the continuing scale of emissions from Spectrum which meant that the chances of achieving the net zero objective were now very slight and,  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO107


Pay Policy Statement 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 106 KB

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Under Sections 38 to 42 of the Localism Act 2011 the Council was required to produce an annual policy statement that covered a number of matters concerning the pay of the authority’s staff, in particular the Council’s approach to the pay of senior management and the lowest paid employees, and the relationship between the two.  The aim behind the Pay Policy Statement was to ensure that the Council’s approach to pay was transparent.  The Council considered the draft Pay Policy Statement for 2024-25, which met the requirements of the Localism Act in that regard and also met the requirements of guidance issued by the Secretary of State to which the authority was required to have regard under Section 40 of the Act.

Following approval by full Council, the Pay Policy Statement would be published on the Council’s website.  Any subsequent amendment to this statement made during the financial year would be similarly published.

Data on pay and rewards for staff was published on the website in line with the Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency and the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015.

Upon the motion of the Lead Councillor for Community and Organisational Development, Councillor Carla Morson, seconded by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Julia McShane, the Council


RESOLVED: That the Pay Policy Statement for the 2024-25 financial year, attached at Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Council, be approved.



To comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 (Section 39) and associated guidance.


Capital and Investment Strategy 2024-25 to 2028-29 pdf icon PDF 446 KB

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Prior to consideration of the budget related reports, of which the Capital and Investment Strategy was the first, the interim Chief Finance Officer made a presentation to the Council, which provided information about the strategic context within which the budget had been prepared, the medium-term financial plan, the robustness of the estimates, adequacy of reserves and budget risks. 

The Council considered a report on the Council’s capital and investment strategy, which gave a high-level overview of how capital expenditure, capital financing and treasury management activity contributed to the provision of local public services along with an overview of how associated risk was managed and the implications for future financial sustainability.

Decisions made now, and during the period of the strategy on capital and treasury management would have financial consequences for the Council for many years into the future. The report therefore included details of the capital programme, any new bids/mandates submitted for approval plus the requirements of the Prudential Code and the investment strategy covering treasury management investments, service investments, and commercial investments.  The report had also covered the requirements of the Treasury Management Code and the prevailing DLUHC Statutory Guidance.

Councillors noted that in order to achieve the ambitious targets within the Corporate Plan, the Council needed to invest in its assets, via capital expenditure, which was split into the General Fund (GF) and Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

All projects, regardless of the fund, would be funded by capital receipts, grants and contributions, reserves, and finally borrowing.  When preparing the budget reports, it was not known how each scheme would be funded and, in the case of regeneration projects, what the delivery model would be.  The report showed a high-level position.  The business case for each individual project would set out the detailed funding arrangements for the project.


The Council noted that some capital receipts or revenue income streams might arise as a result of regeneration schemes, but in most cases the position was currently uncertain, and it was too early at this stage to make assumptions.  It was likely that there would be cash-flow implications of the development schemes, where income would come in after the five-year time horizon of the report and the expenditure incurred earlier in the programme.

The Council had an underlying need to borrow for the General Fund capital programme of £202 million between 2023-24 and 2028-29.  Officers had put forward bids, with a net cost over the same period of £9.8 million, increasing this underlying need to borrow to £211.8 million should these proposals be approved for inclusion in the programme.

The capital programme included several significant regeneration schemes, which it was assumed would be financed from GF resources.  Detailed funding proposals for each scheme would be considered when their Outline Business Case was presented to the Executive for approval.

The main areas of expenditure (shown gross), as set out in the report, were:

·      £258 million Weyside Urban Village (WUV)

·      £35 million Ash road bridge and footbridge (total gross cost £44 million, external  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO109


Housing Revenue Account Budget 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 163 KB

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Councillors noted that the Council owned and managed over 5,200 Council Houses which it rented to tenants who qualified for social housing or for which it held the freehold.  The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was the ring-fenced account within which the Council recorded the income and expenditure for its operations as landlord to its residents and for the day-to-day management, repairs and maintenance of the council housing stock.

The Council considered a report on the proposed Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget for 2024-25, which had been built on the estimates and assumptions in the updated 2023 HRA Business Plan. The business plan had been reviewed to reflect changes in relevant legislation and guidance, along with consideration of the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency and the ongoing challenges of the pandemic as it affected the Council’s operating environment. 

The Direction on the Rent Standard 2019 had required the Regulator of Social Housing to set a rent standard for social housing which came into effect from 2020.  This would have been CPI +1% from the preceding September rate equating to 7.7%, which was the recommended rent increase for the year.  This rate would also apply to those in Shared ownership.

A 5% increase in garage rents was proposed for 2024-25, which was in line with the wider Council policy on fees and charges.

The report included overall details of the proposed investment programme for the properties that were managed within the HRA, additional details of this work had also been set out within the item on the Capital and Investment Strategy. 

The HRA annual budget and HRA business plan had assumed that any surpluses on the HRA were used to invest in redevelopment and upgrading of the existing stock, invest in new build affordable housing to be retained and rented by the Council within the HRA and then if there were sufficient monies available, the repayment of debt taken on under HRA self-financing. 

The 30-year business plan had shown that there were sufficient resources within the HRA to carry out the Council’s investment plans as well as repay the debt over the 30-year business plan period and still leave a healthy reserve balance at the end of the 30 years for further investment not yet identified.

There were further expected investment needs that would be fully developed in order to meet carbon targets and expected regulatory changes, and work on these continued. They were not, however, fully reflected within the current plan, but they would be considered in future reviews.

This report had also been considered by the Joint Executive Advisory Board at its meeting on 11 January 2024 and their comments had been included therein.  At its meeting on 25 January 2024, the Executive also considered this report and had endorsed the recommendations to Council. 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Julia McShane, proposed and the Lead Councillor for Finance and Property, Councillor Richard Lucas seconded the following motion:


(1)    That the proposed HRA revenue budget for 2024-25, as set  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO110


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

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The Council considered a report which outlined the draft General Fund Budget for 2024-25 and Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) ending 2026-27. The work on the 2024-25 budget and the £18.3m MTFP gap had been undertaken as part of the Financial Recovery Plan agreed by the Council in August 2023. The outputs from the various workstreams of the Financial Recovery Plan were set out within the report which had reduced the budget gap by £15.9m.

The MTFP had set out the key work streams for the Council to focus on over this period which, collectively, aimed to address the remaining £2.4m budget gap across the MTFP period, and prepare for future capital financing costs and funding risks.

Significant progress had been made since the report to Council in July 2023, but the agreed savings plans needed to be delivered and the remaining budget gap needed to be addressed.

It was also noted that strengthened financial reporting and processes needed to be embedded in the Council in order to lay the foundations of a financially resilient council.

The proposed budget for 2024-25, which included a Council Tax requirement for Guildford Borough Council of £11,868,084, excluding parish preceptsand anincrease of £5.75 in Council Tax (2.99%), resulting in a Band D charge of £198.16.  As set out in the report, the Council was required to set a balanced budget for 2024-25. 

Parish Councils had requested precepts totalling £2,330,834 meaning the overall council tax requirement for the borough, including parish precepts would be £14,198,918.


The Joint Executive Advisory Board (JEAB) had considered this report at its meeting held on 11 January 2024.  At its meeting held on 25 January 2024, the Executive had also considered this report, including the comments of the JEAB, and had endorsed the recommendation therein. 

Under The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and Council Procedure Rule 19 (d), the Council was reminded that a recorded vote would be conducted on the proposed budget and Council tax resolution as set out in the report, and the Order Paper circulated at the meeting which contained details of the respective precepts set by Surrey County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, neither of which were deemed to be excessive.

Under Council Procedure Rule 15 (o), Councillor Lucas as the mover of the original motion, indicated that, with the consent of his seconder and of the meeting, he wished to alter his motion by substituting, in paragraph 13, “£100,000” in place of “£40,000”.  Paragraph 13, as altered, would therefore read as follows:

(13) That the Council’s existing Local Council Tax Support Scheme, with uprating as set out in Appendix 6 and the £40,000 £100,000 discretionary hardship fund that runs alongside it, be continued.”

The Council agreed to accept the alteration to the original motion, as indicated above. The motion, as altered, therefore became the substantive motion for debate.  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO111


Minutes of the Executive pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To receive and note the attached minutes of the meetings of the Executive held on 23 November 2023 and 4 January 2024.

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The Council received and noted the minutes of the meeting of the Executive held on 23 November 2023 and 4 January 2024.