This report outlines the latest Medium Term Financial Plan Projection and seeks Councillors’ approval for the draft General Fund Budget for 2019/20. The Financial Plan sets out the key areas to target to address the significant budget shortfall in the medium term which is estimated to be £3.8million or 36% of the total net service cost by 2022/23.
It is recommended that the Executive, after considering comments from the Value for Money Overview & Scrutiny Committee, makes the following recommendations to Council, to:
1. agree a 2.99% increase in Waverley’s element of Council Tax for 2019/2020;
2. agree to make no change to the Council’s existing Council Tax Support Scheme;
3. approve the proposed Fees and Charges as shown at Annexe 4;
4. approve the General Fund Budget for 2019/20; and
5. approve the 2019/20 General Fund Capital Programme as shown at Annexe 6.
69.1 Cllr Beaman, Chairman of the Value for Money and Customer Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, advised the Executive that the Overview and Scrutiny had had a meeting dedicated to scrutiny of the budget papers, to which all councillors had been invited. The Committee welcomed the balanced budget that had been presented, and the proposals to maintain the level of community grant funding and to freeze car parking charges for the forthcoming year.
69.2 The Committee had some suggestions in relation to the schedule of fees and charges, to get a better understanding of the relative value of the various fees and charges to the council, and recommended that a comprehensive review of fees and charges be undertaken over the coming year.
69.3 Cllr Band echoed the comments of Cllr Beaman, but recognised that the seriousness of the projected budget shortfall for the period 2020-2023, which would require councillors to think carefully about services provided. The target of saving £1.7m over three years through business transformation needed to be an integral part of thinking and planning.
69.4 Cllr Hall, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Communications, reassured councillors that the need for more detail in relation to business transformation savings was understood, and was in hand.
69.5 Cllr Hall commended officers and councillors for their hard work over a number of months that enabled him to present a balanced budget for the General Fund for 2019/20. It was a prudent budget that protected services and ensured no reduction in funding to the council’s community organisation partners. There were also no increases in car parking charges proposed for next year. It was proposed to increase Waverley’s portion of the council tax, by 2.99%, which was essential to help offset inflation on service costs.
69.6 The financial projection for the medium term showed a shortfall of £3.8m over the next 3 years, and there was still some uncertainty in the projections in relation to the national economic position and cost pressures filtering down from Surrey County Council. Addressing the shortfall would be extremely challenging, but work was underway across a number of projects to target key areas of savings.
69.7 Cllr Hall concluded that the General Fund budget for 2019/20, was fair, balanced and prudent, and he urged its endorsement to Council. The Leader echoed the thanks to officers and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee members, and the warning of tough times ahead and the challenge the council faced to continue to deliver services.
69.8 The Executive, having considered the comments of the Value for Money and Customer Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee, RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to Council that it:
1. agrees a 2.99% increase in Waverley’s element of Council Tax for 2019/20;
2. agrees to make no change to the Council’s existing Council Tax Support Scheme;
3. approves the proposed Fees and Charges as shown at Annexe 4;
4. approves the General Fund Budget for 2019/20, incorporating the pay award; and
5. approves the 2019/20 General Fund Capital Programme as shown at Annexe 6.
[Reason: to enable the Council to agree its General Fund budget for 2019/20.].