Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Via Remote Access

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No. Item


Notes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 292 KB

To receive the notes of the meeting of the Finance & Assets PDAG held on 8 November 2021


The notes of the meeting of the Finance and Assets Policy Development Advisory Group, held on 8 November 2021, were received.


Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy

To receive a presentation from the Head of Finance & Performance on the budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy, before the budget is considered by Cabinet on 27 January and Full Council on 9 February


The Director of Corporate Resources updated the meeting on the current position and presented the 2022/23 draft budget summary.  Key points advised included:


-       A projected decrease of £1.1m in net expenditure from 2021/22, though still higher than 2020/21 pre-Covid

-       A 2.9% increase in C Band Council Tax is factored into the projection, with an overall increase of 2% per annum going forward

-       £1.4m savings in costs of employment, as a result of November 2020 restructuring

-       £1m on new environmental initiatives, including electric vehicles replacing existing ones as they are decommissioned

-       Increasing income from Leisure Centres and car parking after significant reductions in 2020/21


Subsequent discussion included


-       Provision for de-carbonisation and environmental measures, though the full financial implications of pursuing this are difficult to quantify and may exceed the levels estimated

-       Inflation predictions underpinning the projections are based on the nature of typical Council spend and, as such, are we below the retail-based CPI index.  A significant element of Council spend is on staff costs and affected by Local Government pay increases

-       Community Link will require significant investment (£360k over 2 years) to enable it to convert from an analogue to digital operational footing.  It was recognised that this socially important service would not be able to continue without investment

-       Council Tax defaults are not a significant concern, perhaps because of additional support from the County in 2020 and 2021, but business rate defaults remain a greater concern

-       Further staffing cuts are not considered appropriate as the Council is already operating in a lean way and further cutbacks may lead to harmful service impacts

-       Less well defined (and potentially higher) costs associated with the Green Agenda, including carbon neutralisation, suggest the need for a designated Green Reserve. 


Review of Parking Fees and Charges

To receive a briefing from the Interim Head of Parking


The meeting received a presentation from the Interim Head of Parking and the Parking Strategy Officer updating on proposed charges for 2022/23.  Key points included:

-       A reduction in year-on-year parking income of £1.2m of which £1m is expected to be recovered over 3 years.  The current forecast is in line with the current year’s budget, so as expected

-       Overall transactions are close to pre-Covid levels but reflects lower average time spent parking in towns, and slower retail activity.  Season ticket sales have been affected by the increase in home working

-       Benchmarking with neighbouring authorities suggests that there is scope for some charge increases, which is in line with decisions being made in other authorities

-       Proposals for increases were presented, typically 10-15% increases, with implementation from June /July 2022


The proposals were received positively, with some more localised comments relating to rural car parks and specific sites.  A specific suggestion related to the potential for the more sophisticated systems now installed in the principal town carparks to charge for time actually used rather than for predesignated slots.


Council Tax Reduction Scheme


This was consulted on with the PDAG in June and it was recommended that this continued unchanged.  Because there are no changes this does not need public consultation, with a report is scheduled to go through Cabinet to Council for approval in time for 2022/23 Council tax billing.


Business Rates Discretionary Charitable Relief


Business Rates Discretionary Charitable Relief.  Advised by PDAG in June that a change should be consulted on to enable up to 100% relief.  This was consulted upon, there were no replies but the recommendation is to go ahead with the change.


Further Provision of the Internal Audit Service


Alternative options have been investigated but all raised questions about cost, quality or timeliness.  As a result, the decision is for the current Auditors, Orbis, to be retained for a further five year term from April 2022.  Orbis have offered a £20,000 a year reduction in cost.


Forward Plan extract for the Finance Portfolio pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To note the Forward Plan extract for the Finance portfolio


The Forward Plan was noted.