Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To consider the revenue budget, savings
proposals, capital programme and draft Council Plan for 2021/22
(including Equality Impact Assessment, Engagement and Scrutiny
37.1 The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive together a summary of the consultation meeting held with Trade Unions which was received after publication of the Cabinet agenda.
37.2 It was RESOLVED to:
1. recommend the County Council to:
i) Approve in principle the draft Council Plan 2021/22 at Appendix 1 and authorise the Chief Executive to finalise the Plan in consultation with the relevant Lead Members;
ii) Increase Council Tax by 1.99%;
iii) Increase the Adult Social Care precept by 1.5% in 2021/22;
iv) Issue precepts to be paid by Borough and District Councils in accordance with the agreed schedule of instalments at Appendix 6 (Draft);
v) Approve the net Revenue Budget estimate of £416.7m for 2021/22 set out in Appendix 3 (Medium Term Financial Plan) and Appendix 4 (Budget Summary) and authorise the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Chief Finance Officer, Leader and Deputy Leader, to make adjustments to the presentation of the Budget Summary to reflect the final settlement and final budget decisions;
vi) Approve the Capital Strategy and Programme at Appendix 9;
vii) Note progress with the Council Plan and Budget 2020/21 since quarter 2 at Appendix 2;
viii) Note the Medium Term Financial Plan forecast for 2021/22 to 2023/24, set out in Appendix 3;
ix) Note the comments of the Chief Finance Officer on budget risks and robustness, as set out in Appendix 7;
x) Note the comments from engagement exercises set out in Appendix 8; and
xi) Note the schedule of fees and charges that have increased above inflation at Appendix 10.
2. agree that Chief Officers consult, where appropriate, on the savings proposals set out in Appendix 5.
37.3 Prudent planning by the Council, and short-term Government support for the COVID-19 response and social care, means the Council can offer some stability for our residents for the coming year. Whilst the additional funding from Government for social care is welcome, there is continued reliance on raising funding for Adult Social Care through local Council Tax which is unrelated to social care need and unsustainable, particularly given the significant ongoing pressures experienced by our residents as a result of the pandemic. It is essential that proposals for longer term reform of social care funding are brought forward as soon as possible. In the meantime, the proposals in this report will ensure the Council is able to protect services for the most vulnerable for the coming year and spread the contribution to this from Council Tax paid by our residents over two years. Support will continue to be available through local Council Tax Support Schemes for those residents eligible. The budget presented is for one year, with considerable unpredictability about what that year will hold.
37.4 The situation beyond 2021/22 remains highly uncertain and we face a significant gap between the funding we currently expect to have and the cost of providing our services. The short term support provided by Government does not make up for the amount of funding lost over the last 10 years and neither will it be sufficient to prevent the need to consider further savings in future to fund pressures from the rising demand for and cost of social care. Any further savings, beyond those already factored into our planning, would take the Council below its Core Offer.
37.5 Our lobbying endeavours therefore remain as important as ever and we will need to continue to work with our local, regional and national partners to press for fair and sustainable funding that enables us to continue to meet the needs of our residents. Core to this is a need for Government to bring forward reforms for sustainable funding and provision of social care at the earliest possible opportunity, as until this is delivered our medium term financial position will remain very challenging. We will also continue to press for a real terms increase in grant funding for the sector and for delivery of the Fair Funding Review to allocate funding in line with evidenced need.
37.6 Given the scale of the current recession and future economic uncertainty, we will also prioritise work with our partners, including in the South East 7 and County Councils Network, and local Borough and District Councils to ensure that plans for economic recovery factor in the specific skills, employment and infrastructure needs of East Sussex. Lobbying to ensure that our residents and businesses have what they need to be successful in the future will be fundamental to achieving a strong recovery from the economic disruption brought by the pandemic and reducing the need for county council support and services in future.
Report author: Beth McGhee
Publication date: 30/03/2021
Date of decision: 26/01/2021
Decided at meeting: 26/01/2021 - Cabinet
Effective from: 03/02/2021