Agenda item

General Fund Revenue and Capital Estimates 2020/21

To present the Cabinet with the draft revenue and capital estimates for General Fund services in 2020/21. To recommend to Council the level of council tax to be levied for 2020/21.

Decision:

  1. That Cabinet agree for a resolution to be placed before the meeting of the Council on 25 February 2020, specifying the council tax to be levied in the Borough of Gravesham for the year 2020-21.

 

  1. That Cabinet delegates authority to the Director (Communities), in consultation with S151 Officer and Leader of the Executive, to conclude the procurement process and award the contracts for the supply of fitness equipment at Cascades and Cygnet Leisure Centres as set out in Appendix 7a, subject to the budget associated with this procurement exercise being approved by Full Council on 25 February 2020.

Minutes:

The Cabinet was presentedwith the draft revenue and capital estimates for General Fund services in 2020-21 together with the recommended level of council tax to be levied for 2020-21.

 

The report was presented in seven sections and the Assistant Director (Corporate Services) provided Members with a detailed summary of each section:-

 

·         Section One – Policy Context;

·         Section Two – Government Funding;

·         Section Three – Medium Term Financial Strategy;

·         Section Four - General Fund Revenue Budget;

·         Section Five – Council Tax;

·         Section Six - Robustness of Estimates and Adequacy of Reserves; and

·         Section Seven - Capital Programme.

 

The Assistant Director (Corporate Services) advised that, on 20 December 2019, the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2020-21 only was announced by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). This set out an inflationary increase in the Business Rates Retention Baseline Funding Level of 1.63%, in line with the September 2019 CPI inflation figure, as well as confirming that the government would be eliminating negative RSG amounts in 2020-21.

 

The Council had also secured indicative New Homes Bonus funding for 2020-21 of £603,010; this was above the level of funding that was previously in the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP). The government had stated that funding of New Homes Bonus beyond 2020-21 will be subject to the 2020 Spending Review. 

 

The Kent Business Rates Pool will continue to operate in 2020-21. Modelling of anticipated business rates to be generated in the year (including the projected benefit of membership of the Kent Pool) indicated a benefit to Gravesham of £529,650 beyond that previously expected and reflected in the MTFP.

 

The current Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) covered the period 2016-17 to 2019-20. Given the current lack of clarity from the government around the future funding of local government, the S151 Officer and the Council’s Senior Management Team agreed that it would be prudent to put in place a one year MTFS for 2020-21. The strategy was attached at appendix three of the report for Member approval.

 

The Assistant Director (Corporate Services) advised that the delivery of the proactive strategy to respond to the financial pressures first identified by the Council in 2016 had enabled the 2020-21 budget proposals to be presented alongside a MTFP which required no additional savings to be delivered in the plan period to 2028-29. After a decade of significant and sustained cuts to local government funding and the increased focus on financial governance that comes with such circumstances, the Council was now in a position to bring forward the ambitions set out in the Corporate Plan 2019-2023 to deliver a Gravesham to be proud of, specifically supporting:-

 

·         the delivery of a new Leisure Centre for the residents of the borough in 2025;

·         a fully-funded replacement programme for Council-owned play sites in the borough from 2020-21;

·         the delivery of new housing in the borough;

·         an improved town centre street scene;

·         seed-funding of £500,000 for taking forward the Council’s actions to deliver against its commitment to do what was within its powers and resources to become carbon neutral by 2030 and to work with partners on this.

 

The Assistant Director (Corporate Services) advised that there was still uncertainty over the future funding of local government beyond 2020-21. The Council will therefore monitor information on reforms as and when released so that it continued to be in the best position possible to respond to reforms and remain able to deliver services to its residents.

 

In relation to the council tax to be levied, Members were advised that the provisional settlement announcement confirmed the continued flexibility for district councils in setting council tax levels by permitting district councils to raise council tax by 2% or up to and including £5 (whichever is higher) without triggering the requirement for referendum. Taking the decision to freeze council tax in 2020-21 rather than implementing a 2.44% increase would see total council tax income reduced by £1,697,660 across the plan period. A 2.44% increase in Council Tax in 2020-21 would equate to 10 pence per week for a Band D property, with the total annual charge being £208.08.

 

The Cabinet requested that the Communications Team promote to residents that the Council, as billing authority, will issue the council tax bill on behalf of itself and the other preceptors such as Kent County Council, Kent Fire and Rescue etc. and that the proportion kept by the Council was significantly low. 

 

The Cabinet commended the hard work that had been undertaken to date which had resulted in the Council achieving a balanced budget.

 

Resolved that:-

 

1.    a resolution be placed before the meeting of the Council on 25 February 2020, specifying the council tax to be levied in the Borough of Gravesham for the year 2020-21; and

2.    delegated authority be given to the Director (Communities), in consultation with S151 Officer and Leader of the Executive, to conclude the procurement process and award the contracts for the supply of fitness equipment at Cascades and Cygnet Leisure Centres as set out in Appendix 7a, subject to the budget associated with this procurement exercise being approved by Full Council on 25 February 2020.

The Cabinet recommends to Council that:-

 

3.    the Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2020-21 be approved;

4.    the draft revenue estimates for 2020-21 together with revised estimates for 2019-20, be approved, subject to any final amendments agreed by the Section 151 Officer in consultation with the Chief Executive and Leader of the Executive;

5.    the provisional estimates for the following eight years be noted;

6.    the draft capital estimates for 2020-21, together with the revised estimates for 2019- 20, be approved subject to detailed reports coming forward on new schemes where applicable; and

7.    due consideration is given to the view of the Director (Corporate Services) (as S151 Officer) on the robustness of estimates for the coming year, the medium term financial strategy and the adequacy of proposed reserves and balances, as required under Section 25 of the Local Government Finance Act 2003.

 

 

Supporting documents: