Agenda item

Referral Report from Policy and Resources Committee 6th February 2024 - Proposed Budget 2024/25 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2024-2029

1.       That Council approves the proposed Budget and Council Tax for 2024/25 as set out in this report.  In particular:-

a.   The Budget Requirement for Worcester City Council (excluding Parish Precepts) 2023/24 at £12,728,175;

 

b.   The Council Tax Requirement for Worcester City Council (excluding Parish Precepts) 2023/24 at £7,021,078; and

 

c.    The Band D Council Tax for Worcester City Council (excluding Parish Precepts) at £213.08.

2.       That Council approves the Council Tax Resolution 2024/25 set out at Appendix 9 (to follow).

 

3.       That Council approves the proposed Budget for 2024/25 as detailed in the

          following appendices:

i.            the summary budget 2024/25 as set out at Appendix 1

 

ii.           the detailed Budget 2024/25 as set out in the Budget Book at Appendix 2

          iii.      the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 3

          iv.      the Pay Policy Statement 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 4

          v.       the detailed Fees and Charges 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 5 and in Appendix 5a (exempt item).

4.       That Council approve the proposed Medium Term Financial Plan for the next five-year period 2024/25 – 2028/29as detailed in Appendix 1 and the forecast Earmarked Reserves balance at 31 March 2024 as set out in Appendix 7.

5.       That Council approve the proposed Capital Programme and Capital Financing as set out in Appendix 6.

6.       That Council endorse the list of revenue projects proposed by the Policy Committees in Appendix 8.

 

Minutes:

The Council considered a referral report from Councillor Denham in her capacity as one of the Vice-Chairs of the Policy and Resources Committee and as Joint Leader.

 

Prior to consideration of the report, the Corporate Director – Finance and Resources spoke and clarified that, in relation to Allotments Fees and Charges, the reference on page 94 of the report to the Advance 25% concession given to tenants should read Advance 33% concession, in accordance with the recommendation of the Policy and Resources Committee.

 

Councillor Denham then spoke and explained that the Committee at its meeting of 6th February 2024 had considered the proposed Budget for 2024/25 and the Medium Term Financial Plan 2024-2029. The Council were recommended to approve the proposed the Budget and Council Tax and Medium Term Financial Plan including revenue projects approved by the Committee, the proposed Capital Programme and Capital Financing, and the Earmarked Reserves Balance. The Council were also recommended to approve the Treasury Management Strategy Statement, Pay Policy Statement and Fees and Charges 2024/25.

 

The Budget was proposed by Councillor Denham and seconded by Councillor Bisset.

 

In accordance with the rules set out in the Constitution, the Council considered the following Budget amendments which had been proposed by Members. The S151 Officer, Monitoring Officer and Relevant Director had provided advice and implications on the amendments.

 

The Officer advice stated that the total cumulative impact of the proposals below is £317,000. The cumulative withdrawal from the business rate risk reserve would reduce the balance to £1,131,379, which is below the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions. The project deficit for 2025/26, as presented in Appendix 1 to the budget report, is £1.369m. There would not be sufficient reserves to set a balanced budget for that year without significant savings identified elsewhere.

 

Proposed Amendment 1 - The following amendment was proposed by Councillor Cleary and seconded by Councillor Geraghty:

 

Proposed Amendment:

Financial implications and funding source:

Advice and implications from (as appropriate):

Freeze proposed increase in Allotment Fees

 

£14,000

The amount saved is modest in terms of the overall Council budget and has caused much disquiet. Follow up suggestions made by Allotment users who say operating costs can be reduced (equipment, maintenance, supplies and materials)

Income from allotment fees forms part of the revenue budgets for the Council. Reversing the decision of the Policy & Resources Committee of 16 October 2023 would increase the budget requirement for 2024/25 from £12,728m to £12.742m and by £14,000 in all subsequent years in the MTFP.

 

If the reversal is applied for one year only and the policy subject to review during 2024/25 this change could be funded as a one-off take from reserves.

 

The anticipated balance on the risk reserve at 31/3/24 is £1,951,079. The committees propose withdrawal of £114,700 and Council is asked to approve a projected budget requirement deficit of £388,000. This leaves a projected balance of £1,448,379.

 

Accepting the proposal would reduce the balance to £1,434,379, which is above the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions.

 

The projected deficit for 2025/26 as presented elsewhere on the agenda is £1.369m.

 

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the amendment. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was lost. Record of voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors Allcott, Altaf, Amos, Cleary,  Geraghty, Hodgson, Jagger, Lawrance, Murray, Stanley  

 

Councillors Agar, Ali, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Lamb, Laurenson, Lewing, Norfolk, Pingree  

Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith  

Stephen, Udall, Willmore  

 

 

Total: 10

Total: 24

Total: 0

 

Proposed Amendment 2 - The following amendment was proposed by Councillor Stanley and seconded by Councillor Hodgson:

 

Proposed Amendment:

Financial implications and funding source:

Advice and implications from (as appropriate):

Continue current hours for fountains at Quay and Cripplegate Park

 

£21,000

The 2024/25 budget projections are relatively conservative. This forgone cost saving should be able to be accommodated.

The cost of managing and maintaining the fountains forms part of the revenue budgets for the Council. Reversing the decision of the Policy & Resources Committee of 16 October 2023 would increase the budget requirement for 2024/25 from £12,728m to £12.749m and by £21,000 in all subsequent years in the MTFP.

 

If the reversal is applied for one year only and the policy subject to review during 2024/25 this change could be funded as a one-off take from reserves.

 

The anticipated balance on the risk reserve at 31/3/24 is £1,951,079. The committees propose withdrawal of £114,700 and Council is asked to approve a projected budget requirement deficit of £388,000. This leaves a projected balance of £1,448,379.

 

Accepting the proposal would reduce the balance to £1,427,379, which is above the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions. 

 

The projected deficit for 2025/26 as presented elsewhere on the agenda is £1.369m.

 

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the amendment. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was lost. Record of voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors, Altaf, Amos, Cleary, Geraghty, Hodgson, Stanley

 

Councillors Agar, Ali, Allcott, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Jagger, Lamb, Laurenson, Lawrance, Lewing, Murray, Norfolk, Pingree, Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith, Stephen, Udall, Willmore

 

 

Total: 6

Total: 28

Total: 0

 

Proposed Amendment 3 - The following amendment was proposed by Councillor Stanley and seconded by Councillor Hodgson:

 

Proposed Amendment:

Financial implications and funding source:

Advice and implications from (as appropriate):

Retain free admission to Worcester Show

£27,000

At the 2023 Worcester Show it cost more to collect the voluntary admission charge than collect it. The saving calculated by council officers is very optimistic and is unlikely to be achieved. Increased stall charges, advertising and sponsorship should be sought to mitigate this.

The cost of managing the Worcester Show forms part of the revenue budgets for the Council. Reversing the decision of the Policy & Resources Committee of 16 October 2023 would increase the budget requirement for 2024/25 from £12,728m to £12.755m and by £27,000 in all subsequent years in the MTFP.

 

If the reversal is applied for one year only and the policy subject to review during 2024/25 this change could be funded as a one-off take from reserves.

 

The anticipated balance on the risk reserve at 31/3/24 is £1,951,079. The Committee agreed withdrawal of £114,700 and Council is asked to approve a projected budget requirement deficit of £388,000. This leaves a projected balance of £1,448,379.

 

Accepting the proposal would reduce the balance to £1,421,379 which is above the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions. 

 

The projected deficit for 2025/26 as presented elsewhere on the agenda is £1.369m.

 

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the amendment. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was lost. Record of voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors, Altaf, Amos, Cleary, Geraghty, Hodgson, Stanley

 

Councillors Agar, Ali, Allcott, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Jagger, Lamb, Laurenson, Lawrance, Lewing, Murray, Norfolk, Pingree, Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith, Stephen, Udall, Willmore

 

 

Total: 6

Total: 28

Total: 0

 

Proposed Amendment 4 - The following amendment was proposed by Councillor Amos and seconded by Councillor Cleary:

 

Proposed Amendment:

Financial implications and funding source:

Advice and implications from (as appropriate):

Gull and pest control to continue at 2023/24 budget level

£20,000

The 2024/25 budget projections are relatively conservative. This forgone cost saving should be able to be accommodated.

The Environment Committee agreed a one-off contribution of £4,700 from reserves to support gull control measures. Extending this to £24,700 would require a reduction in reserves.

 

The anticipated balance on the risk reserve at 31/3/24 is £1,951,079. The committees propose a withdrawal of £114,700 and Council is asked to approve a projected budget requirement deficit of £388,000. This leaves a projected balance of £1,448,379.

 

Accepting the proposal would reduce the balance to £1,428,379 which is above the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions. 

 

The projected deficit for 2025/26 as presented elsewhere on the agenda is £1.369m.

 

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the amendment. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was lost. Record of voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors, Altaf, Amos, Cleary, Geraghty, Hodgson, Stanley

 

Councillors Agar, Ali, Allcott, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Jagger, Lamb, Laurenson, Lawrance, Lewing, Murray, Norfolk, Pingree, Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith, Stephen, Udall, Willmore

 

 

Total: 6

Total: 28

Total: 0

 

Proposed Amendment 5 - The following amendment was proposed by Councillor Hodgson and seconded by Councillor Murray:

 

Proposed Amendment:

Financial implications and funding source:

Advice and implications from (as appropriate):

Ash dieback budget increase from £65,000 to £100,000

 

£35,000

As with the current Ash dieback proposal funding will

need to be drawn from an existing risk reserve, so as not to create an additional

revenue budget pressure for 2024/25.

The Environment Committee agreed a one-off contribution of £65,000 from reserves to support the need to procure specialist tree management services during 2024/25. Extending this to £100,000 would require a reduction in reserves.

 

The anticipated balance on the risk reserve at 31/3/24 is £1,951,079. The committees propose a withdrawal of £114,700 and Council is asked to approve a projected budget requirement deficit of £388,000. This leaves a projected balance of £1,448,379.

 

Accepting the proposal would reduce the balance to £1,413,379 which is above the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions. 

 

The projected deficit for 2025/26, as presented in Appendix 1 to the budget report, is £1.369m.

 

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the amendment. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was lost. Record of voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors, Altaf, Amos, Cleary, Geraghty, Hodgson, Murray, Stanley

 

Councillors Agar, Ali, Allcott, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Lamb, Laurenson, Lawrance, Lewing, Norfolk, Pingree, Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith, Stephen, Udall, Willmore

 

Councillor Jagger

Total: 7

Total: 26

Total: 1

 

Proposed Amendment 6 - The following amendment was proposed by Councillor Hodgson and seconded by Councillor Stanley:

 

Proposed Amendment:

Financial implications and funding source:

Advice and implications from (as appropriate):

Freeze car parking charges for 2024/25

 

 

£200,000

Above figure based on 6% of 2023/24 Income forecast. This number represents a worst-case scenario, because this £200k extra revenue is unlikely to be raised due to less car park use because of high charges that discourage car park use with cheaper alternatives available. Experience of previous financial years has shown the freezing of parking charges has been close to cost neutral.

Income from car parking charges forms part of the revenue budgets for the Council. Reversing the decision of the Policy & Resources Committee of 6 February would increase the budget requirement for 2024/25 from £12,728m to £12.928m and by £200,000 in all subsequent years in the MTFP.

 

If the reversal is applied for one year only and the policy subject to review during 2024/25 this change could be funded as a one-off take from reserves.

 

The anticipated balance on the risk reserve at 31/3/24 is £1,951,079. The committees propose a withdrawal of £114,700 and Council is asked to approve a projected budget requirement deficit of £388,000. This leaves a projected balance of £1,448,379.

 

Accepting the proposal would reduce the balance to £1,248,379, which is below the £1.4m balance required under previous Council decisions.

 

The project deficit for 2025/26, as presented in Appendix 1 to the budget report, is £1.369m. There would not be sufficient reserves to set a balanced budget for that year without significant savings identified elsewhere.

 

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the amendment. Upon being put to the vote, the amendment was lost. Record of voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors, Altaf, Amos, Cleary, Geraghty, Hodgson, Stanley

 

Councillors Agar, Ali, Allcott, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Jagger, Lamb, Laurenson, Lawrance, Lewing, Murray, Norfolk, Pingree, Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith, Stephen, Udall, Willmore

 

 

Total: 6

Total: 28

Total: 0

 

The Council then entered into a debate on the Budget, as proposed, following which it was put to the vote and

 

RESOLVED: That the Council agree to:

 

1.    approve the proposed Budget and Council Tax for 2024/25 as set out in this report, in particular:

 

a. The Budget Requirement for Worcester City Council (excluding Parish Precepts) 2024/25 at £12,728,175;

 

b. The Council Tax Requirement for Worcester City Council (excluding Parish Precepts) 2024/25 at £7,021,078; and

 

c. The Band D Council Tax for Worcester City Council (excluding Parish Precepts) at £213.08;

 

2.    approve the Council Tax Resolution 2024/25 set out at Appendix 9;

 

3.    approve the proposed Budget for 2024/25 as detailed in the following appendices:

 

i.    the summary budget 2024/25 as set out at Appendix 1

ii.   the detailed Budget 2024/25 as set out in the Budget Book at Appendix 2

iii.  the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 3

iv.  the Pay Policy Statement 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 4

v.   the detailed Fees and Charges 2024/25 as set out in Appendix 5 (as amended) and in Appendix 5a (exempt item);

 

4.    approve the proposed Medium Term Financial Plan for the next five-year period 2024/25 – 2028/29 as detailed in Appendix 1 and the forecast Earmarked Reserves balance at 31 March 2024 as set out in Appendix 7;

 

5.    approve the proposed Capital Programme and Capital Financing as set out in Appendix 6; and

 

6.    endorse the list of revenue projects proposed by the Policy Committees in Appendix 8.

 

Record of Voting:

 

For:

Against:

 

Abstain:

Councillors Agar, Ali, Allcott, Bisset, Cockeram, Collier, Cookson, Cooper, Cross, Denham, Desayrah, Gregson, Jagger, Lamb, Laurenson, Lawrance, Lewing, Murray, Norfolk, Pingree, Piotrowski, Riaz, Round, Sadiq, Smith, Stephen, Udall, Willmore

Councillors, Altaf, Amos, Cleary, Geraghty, Hodgson, Stanley

 

 

Total: 28

Total: 6

Total: 0

 

The Mayor then proposed a short adjournment. The meeting adjourned for a 15 minute period.

Supporting documents: