Agenda item

Revenue Budget 2018/19

To receive a presentation from the Executive Director, Resources



The Committee received a presentation from Marianne Betts (Director of Finance and Commercial Services) outlining the approach the Authority had taken in respect of the Revenue Budget 2018/19.




Also in attendance for this item was Councillor Olivia Blake (Cabinet Member for Finance).




Ms Betts reported on the key messages arising from the budget planning process, details of the current budget position, the consultation undertaken as part of the 2018/19 budget decision-making process and the progress made in terms of producing a balanced budget since Autumn 2017.  She referred to the Authority’s overall budgetary approach, together with the detailed budgetary process, the key areas and assumptions in the Revenue Budget, Equality Impact Assessments, and concluded by referring to the key dates, with effect from 9th January 2018 onwards, in connection with the budget-setting process.




Councillor Olivia Blake commented on the consultation held in connection with the budget, indicating that Members and officers were in the process of assessing the results of the process, and were looking at how, where possible, the Authority could match up the public’s view with the Authority’s priorities and targets.




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·       The consultation had comprised an on-line survey and three Cabinet Member-hosted public events in the north, south and central areas of the City.  The Authority had also consulted on particular topics, at meetings with the voluntary, community, faith and business sectors, which would inform longer-term thinking and Equality Impact Assessments. The Cabinet Member had also been interviewed by Radio Sheffield, with the aim of encouraging further consultation/debate through local media.  In the light of the decrease in the level of face to face involvement over the last few years, the Authority had focused more on on-line interaction, the results of which had highlighted participation from a broader range of people.  The participation rates in terms of the consultation would be assessed to inform future arrangements.




·       Attempts had been made to arrange an additional public meeting in the south east of the City, as part of the consultation, but it had not been possible due to problems with the availability of a suitable venue.




·       An analysis was undertaken, and records made, of the postcodes of those people who had completed the on-line survey as part of the consultation.  The survey was still open, and all the results would be analysed by the Council’s Policy, Performance and Communications Service, and a full response to the consultation would be published on-line. 




·       Responses to the consultation had shown overall support for raising Council Tax over cutting services. 




·       A two-step minimum Equality Impact Statement was carried out for all changes, and were to be published on-line, as part of the budget process.




·       In terms of the Authority’s approach with regard to the larger contracts, such as the recycling and waste management contract with Veolia, any reductions in payments paid to the companies, following renegotiations of the contracts, would result in a saving to the Authority from a budgetary point of view. 




·       Improvement and Recovery Plans had been developed in order to mitigate any budgetary pressures in 2018/19, in key areas, including Social Care.   The Plans were likely to require funding from the Authority’s reserves in the short-term.  It was hoped, however, that the budget could be balanced without the need to use such reserves in 2017/18, albeit alternative corporate contributions would be made to mitigate the significant overspend across Social Care.




·       The Social Care Improvement and Recovery Plans were critical to the Authority, both in terms of balancing the Revenue Budget 2018/19, and in terms of future budget planning.  There was a national crisis at present in terms of the funding of Social Care, both in terms of Adults and Children’s Services, which had been due to increased pressures and demand.  There was a need for local authorities to continue to lobby the Government on this issue.




·       The Council Tax rates would be set as a standard part of the budget process (due to the Cabinet on 14th February, 2018, to make recommendations to full Council on 7th March, 2018). However, the Authority was looking at other income generation possibilities, such as attracting more businesses to the City with the aim of increasing income through Business Rates, and building more houses in the City. Equally, the Government had moved to a more bid-based approach in terms of assessing Council funding, particularly with regard to housing and education; the Authority needed to continue to be part of this process, and focus on increasing bid success rates.




·       Members and officers were already holding discussions in terms of the budget for 2019/20 and beyond, and would include this Committee in the planning process.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the information reported as part of the presentation, together with the responses to the questions raised;




(b)      thanks Marianne Betts for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised: and




(c)      requests that it continues to be involved in the Authority’s budget planning process going forward.




Supporting documents: