Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: via Remote Video Link
Contact: Email: CommitteeServices@horsham.gov.uk Direct Line: 01403 215465
Declarations of Members' Interests
To receive any declarations of interest from Members
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive a report from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Assets.
The Leader presented the report and said that the 2020/21 Budget had been approved in February 2020 and near balanced budgets were projected through to 2023/24 on the assumption that business transformation continued and the Council generated further income to mitigate against the cost pressures that continued to rise.
A global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus had been declared on 11 March 2020. The subsequent lockdown and associated recession was having a severe impact on the lives of residents, businesses and the Council itself. The immediate effect of reducing levels of income and increasing expenditure at the Council would result in a significant overspend in 2020/21, and much lower levels of income were anticipated in the future. The Council would have to fundamentally review, change or even close its services to ensure it had a balanced budget in the years to come. The report set out the projected scale of the impact in 2020/21 and how the medium term financial planning scenarios and assumptions had drastically changed. Without action, this would result in a likely budget gap of up to £3m in 2021/22 and significant budget gaps through to 2023/24.
The report had been written in the context of unprecedented levels of uncertainty. The length and depth of the current recession was unknown. Factors of particular concern were the increase in unemployment as furlough ends in the hospitality and leisure sectors that dominated our local economy, the risk of another local or national lockdown, the nature and implications of the Brexit agreement due at the end of the calendar year and the Government’s plans for the reform of business rates. In these circumstances it was essential that the Council kept as much of its reserves as it could in the current year to give it time to make considered decisions about its future service. This report gives a snapshot of where finances were today. As the situation becomes clearer there would be further updates, detailing the latest information on the scale of the deficit, setting out a more developed response and containing plans to tackle the budget gaps, working towards setting a balanced 2021/22 budget in February 2021. To achieve a balanced budget in 2021/22 substantial action was required.
To achieve a £11.2m net expenditure in 2020/21, the Council budgeted generating £24.3m income. In stable economic times, the Council had historically been successful at generating high level of income. However, in a recession, it was a significant risk. Furthermore, income from parking, property and investment returns, and leisure services had been decimated in the first quarter under lockdown, and other income from planning and building control was also affected. Income was expected to slowly recover as the lockdown from Covid-19 lifts, but due to the induced recession and changing customer habits, it may never recover to former levels.
In addition to costs, fees and charges, the Council generates income through Council tax and received income from central government. Council tax collection rates had fallen as customers adjust to their economic ... view the full minutes text for item CO/2
To consider matters certified by the Chairman as urgent
There was no urgent business.