Council Budget 2020/21 (to follow)
To receive details of the Council’s budget for 2020 / 21 from the Director of Corporate Resources
Report to follow.
The Director of Corporate Resources presented the Council Budget 2020/21. The net budget requirement for 2020/21 at £11.2m was £0.77m higher than in 2019/20. The budget included £3.5 million to cover additional costs including the loss of £0.87m recycling credits received from West Sussex County Council and increased charges for customers paying by credit card. The Council had made £2.76 million efficiencies to help offset these costs. The Council was able to set a budget which would generate a surplus which would help towards funding future transformation to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.
The proposed 2% Council tax increase remained the lowest in West Sussex and in the lowest quarter nationally.
The proposed capital program for the next financial year would cost £13.3 million and would include improvements to rural car parks, the Highwood development and disability adjustments to homes.
It was reported that it was felt that the Council’s reserve was sufficient to cover the revenue and capital budget at the present time. It was reported that beyond 2021 the situation was more uncertain. The director suggested that at the present time it was not possible to try to produce a balanced budget for two years in the future as there were too many unknowns to determine whether the Council’s estimates were likely to be accurate such as the future of the New Homes Bonus and potential loss of business rates. That would leave the Council approximately £7.5 million worse off.
The Government was undertaking a fair funding review for Councils. There had been reports that the income from car parking might be taken into account in future funding allocations although the Director thought this was not going to be the case. The results of the Government’s fair funding review were expected in summer 2020.
Some of the Committee wanted the Cabinet Member for Finance to attend the Overview and Scrutiny Committee when large financial matters were discussed. It was requested that in future the Committee Chairman invite him
The losses of £261 thousand for the museum and of £222 thousand for the Capitol was picked up on by Members. It was noted that the museum was not expected to generate a profit and was greatly appreciated by the community and the Capitol had been adversely affected by the opening of the Everyman Cinema.
The cost and timescales for car park developments were also raised. The Director of Corporate Resources reported that more engineering resources had had to be budgeted for.
It was noted that West Sussex County Council’s decision to move some homelessness responsibilities on to Horsham District Council had cost the Council approximately 1 million pounds.
It was further noted that most new posts were created because of the move towards digital technology.
There was a loss of £871 thousand in recycling credits from West Sussex County Council. It was felt that County Council financial losses were being moved on to the District Council. It was further noted that if Horsham Council was required to collect food waste that would cost half a million pounds and involve big changes to recycling schedules.
It was noted that some of the money we had invested was held for other agencies such as West Sussex County Council.
There was a question around the different types of investment properties held by the Council. It was explained that sometimes there were good investment opportunities for the Council and at other times there were not. There was a discussion about the money kept aside in the budget to pay for this. The money was not rolled forward from year to year.
That the Cabinet Member for Finance would be invited to future meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee when large financial items were to be discussed.