Agenda item

Approval of Budget Strategy, Process and Timetable

Report of Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets, Councillor Peter Jeffries


The Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets said the council has faced unprecedented financial challenges over the last 5-10 years but has overcome these with a risk-aware approach to increased commercial activities, the Covid recovery budget, and a robust savings and reserves strategy to maintain services to residents and customers.  The approach for 2024-25 has not changed, and we continue to move forward and review how resources are allocated, taking into account the Golden Valley Development and our climate change pathway.  The starting point is ensuring the key priorities can be delivered and services to residents maintained, with assumptions built into the budget for inflation, interest rates, and pay awards. Areas of growth and corporate priorities have been assessed, a savings and efficiency strategy set, and reserves strengthened, following two years of offsetting the largest cost pressures.  The timetable is set out at Appendix 2.


A Member agreed that the council has faced many financial challenges in recent years, yet has continued to delivery excellent services, particularly in housing.  He said we have to keep taking decisions to deliver the right level of service to residents, and although no vote is required on this item, it is important that the right decisions are made.  He thanked the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets and the finance team for their work – it is not an easy job.

A Member agreed that many people in Cheltenham, particularly the young and old, are living with enormous challenges, and much has been done to help them – which would not have been possible without secure finances at the heart of everything we do.  She thanked the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets and all the finance officers for their work and looked forward to a good year ahead.

The Leader commented that with no information about any settlement until November, officers have to make assumptions on what the budget might be with no certainty from government.  She said no private business could be run like this. The Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets agreed, but hoped for a quiet run into budget setting in November.  He said there was a lot of work ahead for the team, but was confident that the would rise to the challenge, and thanked them for the work they are about to commence.



1.    the budget setting timetable at Appendix 2 and outlined in section 5 of this report is approved;


2.    the outline budget strategy outlined in section 6 is approved;


3.    the £475k overspend reported to Cabinet in September 2023 and large amount of work which will be required to close this gap and deliver the required savings and efficiencies in 2023/24 is noted;


4.    the intention for this Council to remain in the Gloucestershire Business Rates Pool in 2024-25 as outlined in section 7 is noted;


5.    the Section 151 Officer, Deputy Section 151 Officer and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets are requested to consider suggestions from the Budget Scrutiny Working Group in preparing the interim budget proposals for 2024-25.


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