Agenda item



The Deputy Leader presented the First Draft Saving Plans for the Revenue and Capital Budget 2024-25.


Members commented as follows:


-       Cllr Brockie expressed concerns about staff mental health and sickness absences in the context of making the Council financial situation “everyone’s responsibility” as referred to in paragraph 2.2. – Time and resources were allocated to support people’s health and wellbeing and the right training would be provided to maximize individual capability. Very positive responses had been received following the staff survey and efforts were put in to ensure everyone was happy.


-       Cllr Stubbs enquired about paragraph 9.2 and the opinion of robustness. – The savings plans were still at a draft stage and would be confirmed in the Revenue and Capital Budgets as well as Council Tax 2024/25 reports to Cabinet and Council in February 2024.


-       Cllr Grocott asked about the Pay Awards and Capital Receipts estimates. – The pay awards had been increased from 3% to 3.5% after benchmarking had been carried out. Capital Receipts figures were based on current assumptions for 2023-24 onwards.


-       Cllr Stubbs wondered about the figures shown in Appendix A:


o   Item I1: how many minor and major planning applications should be processed to sustain the planning costs uplift? – The figures were based on a standing still of applications.


o   Item I6: could the finance officer elaborate on VAT relating to leisure income? – Following a change in regulation VAT no longer applied to a number of leisure fees including gym memberships.


o   Item I8: what was the average percentage increase of property rent? – Based on what had been achieved this year this was about 7%.


o   Item I10: what was the car parking figure based on? – This was based on a small increased usage and a small increased fee.


o   Item O1: could a breakdown of the further efficiencies referred to be provided? – This was about ensuring that roles and responsibilities were designed to maximise their impact in the organisation.


o   Item S5: could an explanation and a breakdown be given about the capitalization of professional fees? – Capitalisation of salaries in respect of professional fees was permitted for new builds, purchases and enhancements.


o   Item G6: how could the increase be justified with regard to the vacancy factor? – An explanation of the calculation was provided.


-       Cllr Stubbs asked if the borrowing costs in Appendix C were viable. – These had been prepared by the finance team and were realistic figures.


The Deputy Leader commended the work of the Finance team and responses provided to the challenging questions raised by members. The draft budget had had been presented to members well in advance and not all authorities were currently in a position to do so.


Resolved:     1. That the first draft proposals as set out in Appendix A and Appendix B to the report be noted.


2. That the amendment to the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) funding gap as a result of revisions to capital financing and inflationary assumptions be noted (Appendix C).


3. That the refreshed Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) (Appendix D) be noted.


4. That any areas where further information is required for consideration be identified.


5. That any further areas of savings that should be considered be suggested.


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