Agenda item

BUDGET 2015/16, MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN (2015-18) AND CAPITAL PROGRAMME (2015-20)

To consider a report from the Deputy Leader of the Council.

 

Minutes:

The Deputy Leader presented a paper setting out the draft budget agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 5 February 2015.  members were taken through a presentation which set out what had been achieved, the scale of the financial challenge remaining to be addressed and the likely changes to the local government financial settlement in the future.  The cessation of the Rate Support Grant (RSG) by 2019/20 was leading to an increasing dependence on council tax and business rates as a means of raising the necessary funds for local authorities.  Consequently Cabinet had agreed for the first time in five years to recommend  an increase in council tax.  Council were advised that 68% of respondents to the budget consultation had supported a rise in council tax to avoid the need to make further savings which would potentially impact on services.  Approximately 80% of the savings proposed were internal with the organisation bearing the brunt of them and ultimately by 2018 the Council would be half the size it had been in 2008. 

 

The approach moving forward would be to manage demand better, get things right first time, reduce bureaucracy and undertake more preventative work through engaging with partners and communities on need and how services might be delivered in other ways.  There was positive news also including the approach taken to engage with the public and service users etc. The Cabinet had listened to the responses to the public consultation and had amended its proposals on reducing highways spending by 15% as 50% of respondents were opposed to that suggestion.  As a one off measure a further £420k would be allocated to local member schemes to enable members to continue to support initiatives at a local level and an additional £678k would be allocated to social welfare.  The Council continued to do its upmost to support the most vulnerable in society as an example allocating significant funds to support the development of Sandside Lodge, home adaptations for the sick and disabled  etc.

 

The Leader seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.

 

The Leader of the Conservative Group, Mr Airey spoke to oppose the motion and to move an amendment on behalf of the opposition.  He moved that   paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 of the report be amended to read as follows below:

 

1.1             ‘Council agrees to accept the Council tax Freeze Grant for 2015/16 with no increase in Council Tax for 2015/16 resulting in :- .

 

(a)               The Council Tax Requirement for 2015/16 of £188.331m and precepts on the District Councils as set out below:-

 

Table 1 – Precepts

£

Allerdale

33,573,494

Barrow

20,978,397

Carlisle

36,687,011

Copeland

23,051,547

Eden

22,699,311

South Lakeland

51,341,366

Total

188,331,126

 

            (b)       The following levels of Council Tax for each property band as set out below:-

 

Table 2– Council Tax Levels

£

Band A (up to £40,000)

774.33

Band B (£40,001 to £52,000)

903.39

Band C (£52,001 to £68,000)

1,032.44

Band D (£68,001 to £88,000)

1,161.50

Band E (£88,001 to £120,000)

1,419.61

Band F (£120,001 to £160,000)

1,677.72

Band G (£160,001 to £320,000)

1,935.83

Band H (£320,001 and over)

2,323.00

 

1.2       Council agrees the 2015/16 Revenue Budget and MTFP (set out in Appendix A) subject to the changes (including consequential adjustments) proposed in Appendix 1 of this amendment including the Net Revenue Budget Requirement for 2015/16 of £379.332m which includes the following:

 

a)                The CCC Capital Budget for 2015/16 of £103.579m, set within the rolling programme of £304.896m (2015 - 2020).

b)                The School’s Budget for 2015/16 of £329.896m

c)                 The use of reserves and levels of forecast reserves contained in the MTFP.

d)                The fees and charges schedule for 2015/16 as set out in Appendix E.

 

Attached at Appendix 2 are updated saving and pressure sheets supporting the proposal.’

 

In referring to the Cabinet’s proposals Mr Airey suggested that the presentation of the responses to the consultation exercise were a misrepresentation given that less than half the number of people had responded compared to last year and the consultation itself had only been concerned with £5.8m of the savings or 18% of the total.  Local Government was experiencing a tough time but the government was having to work hard to balance the nations finances.  The coming changes to RSG made the case for unitary governance all the more pressing but any plans needed to be consulted upon properly and the manner in which the Ernst Young report had been presented was inappropriate.  He proposed that the Council should accept the council tax freeze grant as not to do so whilst cutting services was unfair on the public.  The Council needed to continue to support the economy, vulnerable people and children yet the administration had presided over large cuts to bus services, damage to support for the vulnerable, children’s services, economic and tourism funding and staffing. The alternative budget proposed would support tourism which was fundamental to the county’s economic prosperity, local transport initiatives, post 16 transport whilst rationalising children’s centres to focus on need and consolidate with family centres,  reducing the use of external consultancy and agency staff, deferring the implementation of the Living Wage which would cost jobs and rebalancing the urban v rural aspects of service delivery/accessibility.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.

 

Mr Betton objected to the budget proposed by the administration and proposed a referral back to Cabinet for reconsideration.  He advised that he could not support a council tax increase and believed that members should accept some of the pain and reduce their members allowances by 10% of the basic allowance and withdrawal of SRA’s (Special Responsibility Allowances) entirely. Corporate Director, Assistant Director and Senior Manager pay should be reduced by 20%.  Mr Betton’s amendment was not seconded.

 

At this point the Chairman called for an adjournment for lunch until 1.15pm and advised that on reconvening the Council would debate the motion and the amendment together in line with special procedure adopted at the budget meeting each year.

 

On the meeting reconvening the Deputy Leader raised what she believed had been a breach of the code of conduct (para 19.3) by Mr Airey when moving his amendment when he had referred to her in an inappropriate manner and sought a withdrawal and apology.

 

Mr Airey declined to offer an apology and suggested that he had merely been engaging in robust political debate and nothing more.  Politicians needed to have thicker skins and not take things too personally in the cut and thrust of debate.

 

The Chairman reminded Mr Airey and all members of the code of conduct and the need to treat eachother with respect at all times.

 

The Leader expressed  his disappointment at the lack of an apology and responded to what he described as Mr Airey’s extraordinary proposition which appeared to be predicated on accepting the Council Tax Freeze Grant.  The Leader explained the effect of accepting the freeze grant on future years budgets and its cumulative effect on the base budget.  The Council faced difficult decisions but the budget proposed by the administration avoided unlike the amendment attacking childrens centres, family centres, 0-19 budgets, increasing fees and charges by 5% and closure of care homes.  He had found comments about the school clothing grant and where it was spent distasteful and suggested that a number of the proposals in the amendment were undeliverable and that they were known to be so.  He urged members to support the administration’s budget.

 

A number of members spoke of the difficulties in protecting the most vulnerable in the face of significant funding cuts but it was important that the Council faced up to some difficult choices to ensure priority services were protected.

 

Some members called into question the rationale of the new build in Carlisle given the financial situation whereas other members advanced the view that a new efficient building would contribute towards the savings.

 

There were differing views expressed on the handling of the financial crisis by the government and its impact on local government with the administration suggesting that the budget it proposed was the best which could be delivered in the circumstances.  A number of members commented on the perceived mismatch between rural and urban, the need for Cumbria Care to modernise and the opposition proposal to merge children’s and family centres.

 

Mr Strong spoke in support of the Conservative amendment emphasising that the proposal in respect of the school clothing grant was to ensure it was spent on school clothing exclusively and to provide an audit trail thereto.  The response to the public consultation had been disappointing with less than half the responses received.  The administration budget he suggested was a disappointment and only delivered higher taxes, fewer services and less jobs.

In summing up Mr Airey congratulated members on an excellent and robust debate.  The proposals of his group were not heartless or uncaring as suggested and Conservative members worked hard in their divisions as did many members of other groups.  He suggested that quite to the contrary the administration could be described as uncaring given the cuts they proposed to advocacy, social care and children’s services whilst at the same time spending £700 per day on a consultant PR guru.

 

In reply Mrs Bell confirmed that the saving in advocacy would be delivered as a result of re-commissioning the service.  She noted that when in the administration the Conservative group had supported the new build.  No matter the result of the coming general election funding would still decrease.  By the end of the year the Council would have saved £211m and next year would need to deliver a further £33m.  the budget had been prepared on the basis of three principles :

 

            To protect the most vulnerable

            To reshape the Council

            To reduce/manage demand

 

The Deputy Leader concluded by stating that the budget was not just about cuts but that the administration had remained true to its values and the budget proposed was the best possible in the circumstances.

 

The amendment was then put to the vote and as required by the regulations a recorded vote was taken. Members voted as follows:

 

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

Mr Airey

Mr Barry

Mr Allison

Ms Bateman

Mr Bingham

Mr Bell

 

Mr Fairbairn

Mr Bland

Mrs Bell

 

Mr Jones

Mr Bowness

Mr Betton

 

Ms McCarron-Holmes

Mrs Carrick

Mrs Bowditch

 

Mr Murphy

Mr Clarkson

Mrs Burns

 

Mrs Robinson

Mr Crawford

Mr Clark

 

Mr Toole

Miss Fearon

Mr Collins

 

Mr R Wilson

Mr Fisher

Mr Cotton

 

 

Mr Hitchen

Mr Cook

 

 

Mr Kennon

Mr Doughty

 

 

Mr Lister

Ms Earl

 

 

Mrs Mallinson

Mrs Evans

 

 

Mr Mallinson

Mrs Feeney-Johnson

 

 

Mr Markley

Mr Fletcher

 

 

Mr Marriner

Ms Furneaux

 

 

Mr Nicholson

Mr Graham

 

 

Mr Richardson

Mrs Gray

 

 

Mr Roberts

Ms Halliday

 

 

Mr Stephenson

Mr Hamilton

 

 

Mr Strong

Mr Hawkins

 

 

Mrs Tarbitt

Ms Hayman

 

 

Mr Wearing

Mr Holliday

 

 

 

Mr Hughes

 

 

 

Mr Humes

 

 

 

Mr Knowles

 

 

 

Lord Liddle

 

 

 

Mr Little

 

 

 

Mr Lysser

 

 

 

Mr McCreesh

 

 

 

Mr McDevitt

 

 

 

Mr McEwan

 

 

 

Mr McGuckin

 

 

 

Mr Morgan

 

 

 

Mr Murphy

 

 

 

Mrs Rae

 

 

 

Mrs Skillicorn

 

 

 

Mr Southward

 

 

 

Mr Stewart

 

 

 

Mrs Tibble

 

 

 

Ms Wall

 

 

 

Mr Watson

 

 

 

Mr Weber

 

 

 

Ms Weir

 

 

 

Ms Wharrier

 

 

 

Mrs Willis

 

 

 

Mr E Wilson

 

 

 

Mr M Wilson

 

 

 

Mr Wormstrup

 

 

 

Mr Worth

 

 

 

Mr Young

 

 

 

With 23 voting for and 51 against the Chairman declared the amendment LOST.

 

The original motion was then put to the vote and as required a recorded vote was taken with members voting as listed below:

 

For

Against

Abstain

Absent

Mr Barry

Mr Airey

 

Ms Bateman

Mr Bell

Mr Allison

 

Mr Fairbairn

Mrs Bell

Mr Betton

 

Mr Jones

Mrs Bowditch

Mr Bingham

 

Ms McCarron-Holmes

Mrs Burns

Mr Bland

 

Mr Murphy

Mr Clark

Mr Bowness

 

Mrs Robinson

Mr Collins

Mrs Carrick

 

Mr Toole

Mr Cotton

Mr Clarkson

 

Mr R Wilson

Mr Cook

Mr Crawford

 

 

Mr Doughty

Miss Fearon

 

 

Ms Earl

Mr Fisher

 

 

Mrs Evans

Mr Hitchen

 

 

Mrs Feeney-Johnson

Mr Kennon

 

 

Mr Fletcher

Mr Lister

 

 

Ms Furneaux

Mrs Mallinson

 

 

Mr Graham

Mr Mallinson

 

 

Mrs Gray

Mr Markley

 

 

Ms Halliday

Mr Marriner

 

 

Mr Hamilton

Mr Nicholson

 

 

Mr Hawkins

Mr Richardson

 

 

Ms Hayman

Mr Roberts

 

 

Mr Holliday

Mr Stephenson

 

 

Mr Hughes

Mr Strong

 

 

Mr Humes

Mrs Tarbitt

 

 

Mr Knowles

Mr Wearing

 

 

Lord Liddle

 

 

 

Mr Little

 

 

 

Mr Lysser

 

 

 

Mr McCreesh

 

 

 

Mr McDevitt

 

 

 

Mr McEwan

 

 

 

Mr McGuckin

 

 

 

Mr Morgan

 

 

 

Ms Murphy

 

 

 

Mrs Rae

 

 

 

Mrs Skillicorn

 

 

 

Mr Southward

 

 

 

Mr Stewart

 

 

 

Mrs Tibble

 

 

 

Ms Wall

 

 

 

Mr Watson

 

 

 

Mr Weber

 

 

 

Ms Weir

 

 

 

Ms Wharrier

 

 

 

Mrs Willis

 

 

 

Mr E Wilson

 

 

 

Mr M Wilson

 

 

 

Mr Wormstrup

 

 

 

Mr Worth

 

 

 

Mr Young

 

 

 

 

With 50 voting For and 25 Against the Chairman declared the motion CARRIED and it was

 

RESOLVED,    that

 

                           (1)       Council agrees to increase Council Tax by 1.99% for 2015/16 resulting in:-

 

                                       (a)    The Council Tax Requirement for 2015/16 of £192.078m and precepts on the District Councils as set out below:-

 

Table 1 – Precepts

£

Allerdale

34,241,496

Barrow

21,395,795

Carlisle

37,416,986

Copeland

23,510,197

Eden

23,150,952

South Lakeland

52,362,889

Total

192,078,315

 

(b)         The following levels of Council Tax for each property band as set out below:-

 

Table 2– Council Tax Levels

£

Band A (up to £40,000)

789.74

Band B (£40,001 to £52,000)

921.36

Band C (£52,001 to £68,000)

1,052.99

Band D (£68,001 to £88,000)

1,184.61

Band E (£88,001 to £120,000)

1,447.86

Band F (£120,001 to £160,000)

1,711.10

Band G (£160,001 to £320,000)

1,974.35

Band H (£320,001 and over)

2,369.22

 

                           (2)       Council agrees the 2015/16 Revenue Budget including the Net Revenue Budget Requirement for 2015/16 of £380.967m which includes the following:

 

                                       (a)    the draft Medium Term Financial Plan (set out in Appendix A) which provides the context for the 2015/16 budget;

 

                                       (b)    the CCC Capital Budget for 2015/16 of £103.579m, set within the rolling programme of £304.896m (2015-2020);

 

                                       (c)     the School’s Budget for 2015/16 of £329.896m

 

                                       (d)    the use of reserves and levels of forecast reserves contained in the MTFP;

 

                                       (e)    the fees and charges schedule for 2015/16 as set out in Appendix E.

 

                           (3)       Council agrees the Treasury Management Strategy for 2015/16 which is set out in Appendix F, specifically the:-

 

                                       (a)    Treasury Management Strategy at Appendix F Section 4 (including the borrowing strategy is set out in Section 4.4);

 

                                       (b)    Annual Investment Strategy Statement at Appendix F Section 5);

 

                                       (c)     Prudential Indicators at Appendix F Section 6;

 

                                       (d)    Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy Statement at Appendix F Section 7.

 

                           (4)       Council agrees the adoption and publication of the Statutory Pay Policy Statement 2015/16 set out in Appendix H.

Supporting documents: