Agenda item

General Fund Revenue and Capital - Interim Budget Proposals 2023-24 for consultation

Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets TO FOLLOW


The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration presented the report, which outlined the General Fund Revenue and Capital Interim Budget Proposals for 2023/24. He reflected on the economic changes of the last twelve months, which provided the background for setting this interim budget. Last December, inflation had already been at a 40 year high of 4.2%, but it now stood at 11.1%. Interest rates had increased eight times since last year, whereas in December 2021 they were paying about 15p for a unit of electricity and 3p for a unit of gas. This now cost 40p and 10p respectively, even with the government’s caps on pricing. Across the year, there had been three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors.

Throughout this turbulence, the challenge had been to continue to drive forward with the goals outlined in the November 2020 Covid-19 Recovery Strategy and the Corporate Plan. These included making Cheltenham the cyber capital of the UK, investing in sustainable economic growth in the town centre, supporting the most vulnerable communities through No Child Left Behind, delivering more housing across the town, and continuing with their commitment to make the council and town net carbon zero by 2030.

He stressed that this had not been easy. With the latest budget monitoring report for 2022/23 reporting a £2.39m overspend against what was a reasonable and prudent budget this time last year, they were placing reliance on general balances to balance the budget this year. These balances were finite, and this was not a long term strategy to rely on.

The Local Government Provisional Finance Settlement setting out the level of government funding for consultation had just been released, with only a 3% increase in core funding against inflation of 11.1%, and just one year’s funding guaranteed. It placed greater reliance on local tax generation and CBC’s own commerciality to enable them to balance the budget for 2023/24. He was pleased to be able to do that by recommending an interim budget proposal that allowed them to continue to work towards their corporate goals whilst protecting financial sustainability and resilience.

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency described it as incredible budget against all odds, especially considering the instability in central government throughout the year. It was a tough time for local authorities across the country, and they had managed to maintain essential services while continuing investment in climate change, housing and other corporate priorities. In the current climate, it was an impressive budget.

The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities added that she had been shocked to find out that councils were once again only receiving a one year funding settlement, giving them no way to plan ahead for the next five or ten years. Other councils were finding this virtually impossible to cope with and having to make major cuts. She found it really cheering that CBC was continuing to invest and create opportunities, especially for children and families. They were generating funding from other areas rather than taking cash from residents’ pockets to pay for this.

The Leader added that at the LGA Conference in July of this year, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had promised a two-year budget settlement. This promise had not made it to December.

The Cabinet Member Finance, Assets and Regeneration thanked colleagues for their warm words and highlighted the work of the finance team, who had done incredibly well considering the backdrop of uncertainty in central government and the lack of a longer settlement period. The proposals would go out for consultation now.

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 2023/24 represents an increase of 2.99% a year for a Band D property, subject to conclusion of the consultation on the Local Government Provisional Finance Settlement;

2.    The schedule of target savings and income generation at Appendix 3 be noted;

3.    The proposed capital programme at Appendix 5, as outlined in Section 13, be approved;

4.    Authority be delegated to the Executive Director Finance, Assets and Regeneration, 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;

5.    Consultation responses be sought by 31st January 2023.

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