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Contact: Bathsheba Mall Email: Bathsheba.Mall@lbhf.gov.uk
Apologies for absence
There were no apologies for absence.
Roll Call and Declarations of interest
To confirm attendance, the Chair will perform a roll call. Members will also
have the opportunity to declare any interests.
If a Committee member has any prejudicial or personal interest in a particular item they should declare the existence and nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.
At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a prejudicial interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter. The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Standards Committee.
Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance, then the Councillor with a prejudicial interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration unless the disability has been removed by the Standards Committee.
The Chair noted the attendance of members and no declarations of interest were reported.
This report sets out the budget proposals for the services covered by these Policy and Accountability Committees (PAC). An update is also provided on any proposed changes in fees and charges in the budget.
Emily Hill provided an overview of the planned medium term financial strategy (MTFS) within the context of continued financial uncertainty regarding public expenditure. Prior to Covid, there had been an indication that an uplift of 4.5% in core spending power signalled a possible end to austerity. However historic deep cuts had resulted in trying to deliver more services with less money. Locally this reflected a need to balance demand led social care services within a restricted financial structure. Council tax remained the third lowest nationally and significantly below the London average. Council expenditure on social care equated to about half of the total expenditure of £86 million. An inflationary increase of 4.1% reflected the fragility of the social care market and, within a tightening financial context, a deficit was expected this year with two thirds attributed to Covid. A third lockdown had made it harder to deliver savings whilst supporting a Covid response. The allocated Covid grant had been received but not yet spent and held in grant for future years.
Departmental budget proposals
It was noted that for 2020/21 in terms of Covid implications, a fees and charges compensation scheme would partly fund council tax and business rate losses. Local authorities would have to meet the first 5% followed by 75p in the pound there after. The remainder would be met by the council and council tax losses would be spread over a three year period. There had been a devasting impact on business rates reflecting the economic impact of Covid on local businesses and any shortfall in government funding would need to be met in reserves or from savings. There would be an increased budget gap in 2021/22 and a reduced rate of business and household council tax collection was anticipated. Contingency funding for homeless had also been anticipated.
It was important to recognise that financial uncertainty would continue. The increase in council tax reflected the government expectation to raise funds locally but the long term economic impact of Covid required further evaluation and linked to a corresponding reduction in local services. The loss of the new homes grants as part of the national levelling up agenda redirecting funding away from urban areas represented a further reduction.
Co-optee Tony Boys commented that despite the projections for economic recovery being cautious there was a possibility of a substantial recovery predicted for 2021. He asked if this outcome had been including in the financial modelling and what the impact of a more positive recovery might look like in the MTFS. Emily Hill explained that the MTFS took into account low interest rates which were likely to remain low even with recovery. The social care market remained fragile and it was accepted that demand was set to increase. Any substantial recovery was not expected to impact and the MTFS also considered the impact of recovery on the short term support needed for families and there was no reliance on the revenue from business rates.
Questions from the Committee
With reference to ... view the full minutes text for item 3.