1.1 To provide an update on the budget
position for 2021/22 and subsequent years and to seek feedback on
the budget proposals for Full Cabinet.
1.2 To update the Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Capital Strategy, and to recommend any amendments for approval by Full Cabinet.
The report before the Scrutiny Board provided an update on the budget position for 2021/22 and subsequent years and updated Members regarding the Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Capital Strategy.
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive presented the report for Members and advised that comments were sought from the Scrutiny Board prior to the Full Cabinet meeting scheduled for 11 February 2021, which would receive the Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021/22 – 2023/24 proposals. All comments received on the Cabinet Portfolio Holders budget proposals as considered by all the Scrutiny Boards were detailed in Appendix B to the report. Trade Unions, local businesses and the Solihull Chamber of Commerce had also been consulted.
Having received the presentation from the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive, Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a number of questions pertaining to the report. In response, Members were advised that:
· Business Rates were set by the District Valuer on the rateable value of the business concerned. Local Authorities had no influence over the process. A Business Rates review had been deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but was expected to be rescheduled after the Chancellors budget on 3 March 2021. The Council continued to support local businesses via appropriate grant funding, which was open to all businesses on application. Members were advised the Council would issue a formal response to the Business Rates consultation at the appropriate time through the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Resources.
· The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that he was satisfied with the budget proposals under the current circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic as signified through the Section 25 Statement. Members were advised that with regard to the MTFS, the final year 3 budget proposals for the MTFS showed that it was a balanced MTFS, founded on an on-going, sustainable basis with no recourse to Council Reserves.
· To continue to mitigate risks, the Council would retain some funding in the Business Rates windfall, although the MTFS was recognised as the best tool to continue to successfully manage and deliver the Council’s budget arrangements. There were no significant risks that had not been budgeted for.
· All Budget Reserves were reviewed via the Budget setting process, which involved internal challenge and review of on-going budget pressures.
· Members were advised that in respect of the Multi-Council Material Recycling Facility project, which included approval for prudential borrowing of up to £8.000 million, a further £1.000 million of prudential borrowing to ensure the project delivers its outcomes was being requested. Members were informed that this was attributable to the original project costs having been based on estimates, whereas the latest estimate of funding was more informed having gained project maturity. Members were further advised that the Council would receive a commercial rate of interest on the £9M funding concerned.
· It was confirmed that going forward in future years there would be a dedicated annual Carbon Reduction budget. The current 2025 target figures were established a number of years ago and an annual update could be expected by Members in future years.
· Members were advised that the Council had taken account of Brexit as part of the budget setting and MTFS process. Budget and risk monitoring was undertaken continually as part of the budget management process throughout the year.
Having considered the report, the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board:
(i) To note the updated budget position as outlined in the report and pressures and mitigations detailed at Appendix A;
(ii) To note the comments arising from the Scrutiny Boards as detailed at
(iii) To note the proposal to create new reserves as outlined at paragraphs
3.13 to 3.18 detailed in the report;
(iv) To note the draft updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and
Capital Strategy, as attached at Appendices C and D to the report;
(v) To note the fees and charges proposed within each Portfolio and
detailed at Appendix F (available online only);
(vi) To note the recommendation to approve a further £1.000 million of
Prudential Borrowing for the Material Recycling Facility project (taking the total from £8.000 million to £9.000 million) as outlined at paragraph 3.28 of the report;
(vii) To note the recommendation to roll forward the Management
Agreement with Solihull Community Housing (SCH) as outlined at paragraph 3.32 of the report;
(viii) To note the recommendation in respect of the Council’s
carbon budget, as outlined at paragraph 3.33 and detailed in the report to the Budget Strategy Group attached at Appendix G;and,
(ix) To note the Strategic Fair Treatment Assessment, as attached at
Appendix H to the report.