Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

Final General Fund Revenue and Capital budget proposals 2018/19 (including Section 25)

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Finance introduced the report which summarised the revised budget for 2017/18 and the Cabinet’s final budget proposals and pay policy statement for 2018/19. She reminded Members of her introductory statement last year when she predicted that there were extremely difficult financial times ahead, and with further cuts to government funding the net result of this was that the budget process for 2018/19 would be even tougher and would make it very difficult to avoid making cuts. Staff were to be congratulated that cuts to services had been avoided.

 

Despite huge year on year financial cuts and future financial uncertainty whilst the government determined how and where local authority funding would come from and how it will be divided, the ability for local authorities to generate a sustainable independent revenue income was a journey that the council was already on.

 

The Cabinet Member highlighted some of the very positive steps that the council had taken over the last year that not only maintained existing services but also looked to improve, enhance and invest in Cheltenham for the benefit of its residents and businesses.

 

This administration had seen herself and other Cabinet Members bring forward a number of reports for approval aimed at ensuring the council looked at many different and diverse ways and means to protect what makes Cheltenham a great place to live and work. This had included the introduction of a commercial strategy, investment in cultural services, using diverse and new Treasury instruments taking a more risk aware approach, property investment had seen small increases in income, the pension advance lump sum payment that would net the authority £400K over two years, a new extended kerbside recycling service, investment in the new build crematorium,  a successful bid to join the business rates pilot and the launch of marketing Cheltenham alongside hosting a successful new festival of cycling event.

 

She concluded that it was a budget that the Cabinet could be rightly pleased to recommend to Council and asked for their support to approve the recommendations as set out in the report. She expressed her sincere thanks to all of the finance team, in particular Paul Jones and Sarah Didcote, for their enormous amount of hard work in supporting the process. This was endorsed by the Leader.

 

The Leader commended the excellent financial control which the report demonstrated by officers across the council. He considered that it was a very positive budget which demonstrated the efforts being made to protect and enhance services and the decision to increase council tax was appropriate in the circumstances.

 

RESOLVED THAT it be recommended to Council to:

1.    Approve the revised budget for 2017/18.

2.    Consider the budget assessment by the Section 151 Officer at Appendix 2 in agreeing the following recommendations.

3.    Approve the final budget proposals including a proposed council tax for the services provided by Cheltenham Borough Council of £203.01 for the year 2018/19 (an increase of 2.99% or £5.89 a year for a Band D property), as detailed in paragraphs 4.26 to 4.30.

4.    Approve the growth proposals, including one off initiatives at Appendix 4.

5.    Approve the savings / additional income totalling £716,500 and the budget strategy at Appendix 5.

6.    Approve the use of reserves and general balances and note the projected level of reserves, as detailed at Appendix 6.

7.    Note that Gloucestershire was successful in becoming a 100% Business Rate Retention pilot in 2018/19 and propose that the additional revenue generated be earmarked for economic growth initiatives specific to Cheltenham (paragraphs 4.19 to 4.20).

8.    Approve the extension of grants to Cheltenham Performing Arts (£20,000) and the Holst Birthplace Trust (£7,500) for a further 3 years, as detailed in paragraph 5.12.

9.    Approve the deferral of the 2017/18 Cheltenham Trust management fee saving to 2019/20 and 2021/22 and provide for a contingency within the working balance of £150,000 for the Trust to drawdown (paragraphs 5.13 to 5.18).

10.  Approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2018/19, including the continued payment of a living wage supplement at Appendix 9.

11.  Approve a level of supplementary estimate of £100,000 for 2018/19 as outlined in Section 13.

 

Supporting documents: