Decision details

Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources: draft Council Plan 23/24, Revenue Budget and Capital Programme

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes

Purpose:

To ask Cabinet to (i) approve the draft Council Plan, Council Tax levels, Revenue Budget, Capital Programme for 2023/24 for recommendation to the County Council (including Savings Proposals, Equality Impact Assessment, Engagement and Scrutiny feedback) and (ii) agree to the investment in and implementation of the Family Safeguarding model.

 

 

Decisions:

36.1     The Cabinet considered a report by the Chief Executive together with a summary of the consultation meeting held with Trade Unions which was received after publication of the Cabinet agenda.

 

36.2     It was RESOLVED to recommend the County Council to:

 

1)         Approve in principle the draft Council Plan 2023/24 at Appendix 1 and authorise the Chief Executive to finalise the Plan in consultation with the relevant Lead Members;

2)         Increase Council Tax by 2.99% in 2023/24;

3)         Increase the Adult Social Care Precept by 2% in 2023/24;

4)         Issue precepts to be paid by Borough and District Councils in accordance with the agreed schedule of instalments at Appendix 5 (Draft);

5)         Approve the net Revenue Budget estimate of £501.4m for 2023/24 set out in Appendix 2 (Medium Term Financial Plan) and Appendix 3 (Draft) (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;

6)         Agree the Reserves Policy set out in Appendix 6;

7)         Approve the Capital Strategy and Programme at Appendix 8;

8)         Note progress with the Council Plan and Budget 2022/23 since quarter 2 set out in section 4;

9)         Note the Medium Term Financial Plan forecast for 2023/24 to 2025/26, set out in Appendix 2;

10)       Note the comments of the Chief Finance Officer on budget risks and robustness, as set out in Appendix 6;

11)       Note the comments from engagement exercises set out in Appendix 7; and

12)       Note the schedule of fees and charges that have increased above 4% at Appendix 9.

 

Reason

 

36.3     Based on a firm foundation of sound financial management over many years, and with additional Government funding for the coming year, the Council can again offer service stability for our residents.  Whilst the additional national funding is welcome, it is short term, with uncertainty about the level and distribution of funding in future years. Coupled with major reforms to key services, the implications of which remain unclear, this creates significant risk and uncertainty for the future and we must continue to do all we can now to prepare for the demands ahead.

36.4     There is continued reliance on raising funding for core pressures, particularly growing demand in adult social care, through local Council Tax which is unrelated to social care need and unsustainable.In this context we must again ask local people to contribute more to protect services for the most vulnerable for the future.This recommendation is not made lightly, given the current pressures on household budgets, but it is essential if we are to protect services for the years to come.Support will continue to be available through local Council Tax Support Schemes for those residents eligible and we will continue to work with partners to signpost residents to sources of support with the cost of living, including access to benefits they may be entitled to.

 

36.5     The budget presented is for one year, with significant uncertainty remaining about the outlook beyond this. Looking further ahead, we still face a significant gap between the funding we currently expect to have and the cost of providing our services as well as the undefined impacts of reforms. The proposals set out in the report put us in the best position we can to manage this situation and maintain our support to residents, particularly the most vulnerable children and adults, as well as making provision for investment to help manage future demand in Children’s Services and achieve the best possible outcomes for families.

36.6     In this context, we will need to continue to work with our local, regional and national partners to highlight the specific needs of East Sussex and to press for fair and sustainable allocation of funding that enables us to continue to meet the needs of our residents. Core to this is a requirement for Government to ensure sustainable, needs-based funding for growth in demand. Until this is delivered our medium term financial position will remain very challenging. 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 current economic challenges and reducing the need for County Council support and services in future. 

Report author: Claire Lee

Publication date: 24/01/2023

Date of decision: 24/01/2023

Decided at meeting: 24/01/2023 - Cabinet

Effective from: 31/01/2023

Current call-in Count: 0

Accompanying Documents: