budget proposals 2017-18
Budget Scrutiny Working Group recommendations (to follow)
The Chairman advised the committee that rather than receive a written report, as stated on the agenda, the committee would instead be given a verbal update by the Chair of the Budget Scrutiny Working Group, Councillor Nelson.
Councillor Nelson reminded members that the BSWG met regularly and took an active interest in all budget areas, which in the last year had included recycling, car parking and 2020. The BSWG had taken the decision not to produce a report and recommendations as they were comfortable with the 2017-18 budget which had been presented to them and thoughts/comments included:
The group were pleased that the Council were taking the 4 year settlement.
- The BSWG had long advocated property investment as a means of generating new income at a time when funding was being cut. They felt that this was the correct way to make use of the £1m cash available to the Council and making good use of its borrowing capability and were pleased that progress was being made in this area. He advised members of the need to act with speed and urgency when opportunities presented themselves.
- Car parking income always exceeded expectations and the group felt more could be made of this by developing a proper strategy. They felt that a strategy should be adopted as soon as possible.
- As with previous years the group had been impressed with the presentation of the Housing budget by CBH. Councillor Nelson was scheduled to meet with the Housing Minister and planned to discuss ideas to improve the ability of CBH to borrow.
- The reductions in the NHB to fund social care were disappointing in the sense that the Government had been promoting the building of new homes, and given the time and effort that had been devoted to developing the JCS housing requirement.
- Though the lost 2020 savings had been found elsewhere, some members were disappointed by this decision and would have preferred that the money be spent on delivering benefits to the community.
- The BSWG considered the rise in Council Tax to be both reasonable and sensible.
- A balanced budget had been achieved and Finance Officers were to be thoroughly commended for their hard work and diligence.
The following responses were given to member questions:
· The Housing and Planning Bill was a major initiative and a complex subject which needed to be discussed further. Councillor Nelson felt that political parties held similar aspirations but had conflicting ideas on how the housing need should be approached.
· The Government set limits on what CBH could borrow against its housing stock and that this needed to be challenged, to try and give CBH greater flexibility to build more homes.
The Leader confirmed that this was the second year in which the council had been hit by a lower than expected settlement, £600k this year. It had taken a lot of hard work but a balanced budget had been achieved and it was possible that the final settlement could be slightly better.
The Chairman thanked Councillor Nelson for his attendance.
There were no decisions arising from this item.