Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024-29 and 2024/25 Budget and Council Tax

Joint report of the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources outlining how the Council will finance its operations over the next five years and recommending a budget to the Council for 2024/25.

 

NOTE: Members are reminded that, under Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, if they are two months or more in arrears with their Council Tax it is an offence for them to vote on the budget. Members are also required to disclose at the meeting the fact that this Section applies to them.

Minutes:

The Council received a joint report by the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 20024/29 and 2024/25 Budget and Council Tax proposals. 

 

Cllr Ian Parry moved, and Cllr Alan White seconded, the recommendations contained in the report before the Council. 

 

In presenting the report, Councillor Parry informed Members that, despite the well-documented financial challenges facing local authorities, thanks to long-term planning, imaginative change, and careful management of its resources, the Council remained financially stable.  It was that stability which enabled the authority to meet its statutory responsibilities and also to look to the future by investing in the County’s economy, infrastructure and communities. 

 

Councillor Parry indicated that, in line with most other local authorities, the County Council was requested to approve a 4.99 per cent council tax increase for 2024/25, comprising 2.99 per cent for general purposes and 2 per cent ringfenced for social care. This meant that the increase for a Band D property would be £73.41 per annum. 

 

Councillor Parry also extended his thanks to the Council’s Director of Finance and his team, his fellow Cabinet Members, the Council’s Senior Leadership Team and the Members of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the MTFS Working Group for their support in compiling the MTFS and Budget proposals. 

 

Councillor Charlotte Atkins, together with Councillor Yates, also extended their congratulations to the Council’s Finance Team in achieving a balanced budget whilst facing huge financial challenges; but added that it was not sustainable, in the long term, to continue to use reserves to fund gaps.  They added that the pressure from social care, both for adults and children, and also from special educational needs and disabilities, could not be discounted.  They, together with Councillor Hussain, also referred to the need for the central government to find a long term solution to the funding for social care and the dedicated schools grant and added that it was estimated that one in five local authorities would submit a Section 114 notice either this year or next unless these issues were addressed.  

 

Councillor Sutton referred to the Council’s funding for children and family services which stood at £194m for 2024/25. 

 

Councillor Yates also referred to the financial impacts of climate change and the need for more funding to be allocated to the Divisional Highways programme Budget.  Councillor Yates moved, and Councillor Charlotte Atkins seconded, the following amendment by way of an additional recommendation: 

 

“That the Council redistributes any Council Tax levy (e.g. empty houses premium, second homes premium) imposed within their district or borough proportionately to their Members (of the District or Borough raising the levy) as an enhancement to each of those Members’ Divisional Highways Programme budget.” 

 

On consideration of the amendment, the Council’s Monitoring Officer, after consulting the Director of Finance, declared that the amendment was invalid as it did not fall within the remit of the County Council. 

 

The Council then debated the substantive recommendations as contained in the report during which, Councillor Loughborough-Rudd, Councillor Sutherland, Councillor Snape, Councillor Philip Atkins, Councillor Deaville and Councillor David Williams spoke in support of the proposals and how the Council was using its funding wisely and prudently. 

 

Councillor Wilcox spoke about the role played by the MTFS Working Group in scrutinising the budget proposals and explained how they had undertaken this work.  He also extended his thanks to those officers who had supported the working group’s deliberations. 

 

Councillor Pardesi referred to the construction of the new Staffordshire History Centre and indicated that this was a flagship project for the County which she hoped other Members would support. 

 

Members also paid tribute to Rob Salmon, the Council’s Director of Finance, who had recently announced his intention to retire. 

 

Councillor Alan White thanked Members for their comments and added that the Council’s ability to present a balanced budget was as a result of the authority taking difficult decisions over many years. 

 

In accordance with statutory requirements, the Chairman called for a named vote to be taken in relation to the approval of the recommendations contained in the report, the result of which was as follows: 

 

Those Members voting in support of the recommendations: 

Jak Abrahams? 

Philip?Atkins,?OBE

Tina?Clements

Richard Cox

Mike?Davies

Mark?Deaville

Janet?Eagland

Ann?Edgeller

Keith?Flunder

John Francis 

Colin?Greatorex

Philippa?Haden

Gill?Heath

Phil?Hewitt

Jill Hood

Derrick?Huckfield

Philip?Hudson? 

 

Graham?Hutton 

Julia?Jessel

Peter?Kruskonjic

Thomas Loughborough-Rudd

Johnny?McMahon

Paul?Northcott?? 

Ian Parry

Kath Perry 

Jeremy?Pert

Bernard Peters 

Jonathan Price 

Robert Pritchard

Janice?Silvester-Hall

David?Smith

Paul?Snape?? 

Bob?Spencer? 

Mike?Sutherland? 

Mark?Sutton

Stephen?Sweeney

Simon Tagg

Samantha?Thompson

Carolyn?Trowbridge

Jill Waring

Alan?White

Philip?White

Mike?Wilcox

Conor Wileman 

Bernard?Williams

David?Williams

Victoria?Wilson

Mark?Winnington

Mike?Worthington

Those Members voting against the recommendations: Nil 

 

Those Members abstaining from voting: 

 

Arshad?Afsar

Charlotte?Atkins 

Syed?Hussain 

Gillian Pardesi 

Nigel Yates? 

 

Resolved – (a) That the following be approved: 

 

                          i. a net revenue budget of £666.671m for 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 11 to the report; 

 

                         ii.planning forecasts for 2025/26 to 2028/29 as set out in Appendix 11 to the report; 

 

iii. a contingency provision of £15.000m for 2024/25; 

 

iv. a net contribution to reserves of £4.552m for 2024/25; 

 

v. a budget requirement of £671.223m for 2024/25; 

 

vi. a council tax requirement of £459.123m for 2024/25; 

 

vii. a council tax at Band D of £1,544.64 for 2024/25 which is an increase of 4.99% when compared with 2023/24;  This results in council tax for each category of dwelling as set out in the table below: 

 

Category of 

Dwelling 

 

Council Tax 

Rate 

£ 

Band A 

1,029.76 

Band B 

1,201.39 

Band C 

1,373.01 

Band D 

1,544.64 

Band E 

1,887.89 

Band F 

2,231.15 

Band G 

2,574.40 

Band H 

3,089.28 

 

vii. that the Director of Finance be authorised to sign precept notices on the billing authorities respectively liable for the total precept payable and that each notice states the total precept payable and the council tax in relation to each category of dwelling as calculated in accordance with statutory requirements;  

 

ix. the Financial Health Indicators set out in Appendix 10 to the report. 

 

(b) That the following recommendations, which are included within the Capital and Minimum Revenue Provision Strategy 2024/25, the Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25 and the Commercial Investment Strategy 2024/25 (Appendices 9a to 9c to the report), be approved: 

 

                          i. Approve the Minimum Revenue Policy for 2024/25 as contained within the Capital and Minimum Revenue Provision Strategy 2024/25 in Appendix 9a to the report; 

  

                         ii.Approve the Prudential Indicators as set out within the Capital and Minimum Revenue Provision Strategy 2024/25 at Appendix 9a to the report; 

  

                       iii.Approve the 2024/25 Treasury Management Strategy, based on the 2021 CIPFA Codes (Prudential Code and Treasury Management Code), and 2018 MHCLG (now DLUHC) Guidance (on Local Government Investments and on Minimum Revenue Provision); 

 

                       iv.Adopt the Annual Investment Strategy (AIS) 2024/25 detailed in paragraphs 63 to 109 and Annex A and Annex B of the Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25 (Appendix 9b to the report); 

 

                        v.Approve the policies on reviewing the strategy, the use of external advisors, investment management training and the use of financial derivatives as described in paragraphs 110 to 120 of the Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25 (Appendix 9b to the report); 

 

                       vi.Approve the proposed borrowing strategy for the 2024/25 financial year detailed in paragraphs 41 to 62 of the Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25 (Appendix 9b to the report); 

 

                     vii.The Treasury Management Strategy recommendations will operate within the prudential limits set out in Annex C of the Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25 (Appendix 9b to the report) and will be reported to the Cabinet Member for Finance, with respect to decisions made for raising new long-term loans, early loan repayments and loan rescheduling; 

 

                    viii.Approve the Commercial Investment Strategy for 2024/25 (Appendix 9c to the report) and note the circumstances under which commercial investments can be made; 

 

                       ix.Approve the governance arrangements that are in place for proposing and approving commercial investments; 

 

                        x.Approve a maximum quantum for commercial investments of a further £20 million in 2024/25; 

 

                       xi.Approve a maximum limit for an individual service investment loan of £10 million in 2024/25; 

 

                      xii. Any upwards change in the amounts of the limits specified in recommendations x and xi above be delegated to the Director of Finance in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources. 

 

(c) That the Director of Finance be authorised to adjust the contingency provision to reflect any grant and local taxation changes announced in the final 2024/25 Local Government Finance Settlement. 

 

(d) That Cabinet Members and the Senior Leadership Team begin the process of identifying savings and service transformation to be incorporated into the budget at the appropriate time.

 

Supporting documents: