Agenda item

Interim Budget Proposals for General Fund

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets to follow


The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets introduced the report, noting that the council and many other authorities had faced unprecedented financial challenges over the last 18 months in providing the resources and support to manage the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was in addition to a decade of austerity resulting in year-on-year cuts to the Council’s funding. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, the uncertainty continued to impact customer behaviour, with a further financial impact on commercial income and on the town’s economy. With that in mind, it was critical that they set a budget that was balanced and targeted to ensure the council could continue to lead the recovery from Covid-19.

The budget proposals aimed to utilise assets, skills and infrastructure to enable inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth across the borough. It provided an opportunity to reset the baseline position against their corporate priorities and prepare a Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2022/23 and beyond, ensuring financial sustainability whilst continuing to support economic recovery and growth for the town and the council’s climate change ambitions. Working with stakeholders would allow the council to fine-tune services based on actual needs and address those which were under-met.

The responsible allocation of finite resources was essential, and they had identified over £1.5m of efficiencies to date through collaboration and additional revenue generation. The budget proposed a modest increase of 2.28% in council tax, which for a Band D property equated to less than 10p a week extra.

He outlined the context behind this increase and acknowledged that the recovery from the pandemic was not yet complete. The recovery strategy was focused on revitalising and reshaping the economy and ensuring that future growth benefitted all communities.

The formal budget consultation on the budget proposals would run until 26th January 2022, and he hoped that the widest possible audience could have a chance to make their voices heard. With this in mind, he had requested a number of formal meetings with interested parties including businesses, the voluntary sector, parish councils and trade unions.

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency recognised the hard work and professionalism of the finance team in producing the proposals, considering the timing of the local government settlement and the wider situation at the moment. The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets echoed this and thanked Paul Jones, Gemma Bell and the rest of the finance team for ploughing on in turbulent times for the benefit of the town.

The Leader moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:


1.    The interim budget proposals be approved for consultation, including a proposed council tax for the services provided by Cheltenham Borough Council. The proposed Council tax for 2022/23 represents an increase of 2.28% or £5.00 a year for a Band D property. Note the detailed schedule of target savings at Appendix 3;

2.    The proposed capital programme at Appendix 5, as outlined in Section 8, be approved;

3.    Authority be delegated to the Executive Director Finance and Assets, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets, to determine and approve any additional material that may be needed to support the presentation of the interim budget proposals for public consultation which will include any changes arising from the provisional settlement;

4.    Consultation responses be sought by 26 January 2022.


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