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Agenda item

Our Approach to Future Priority Budgeting

Verbal update and discussion with Executive Member for Finance and Resources and Head of Policy and Partnerships.



Councillor Cate MacDonald (Executive Member for Finance and Resources) thanked the Committee for the opportunity to provide an update. She advised that this was to be an informal session, and that all views were welcome. She explained the intention was to work towards a prioritised budgeting system and wished to seek views and priorities from all Transitional Committees to feed into the budget process.




Also in attendance for this item were Eugene Walker (Executive Director of Resources) and Laurie Brennan (Head of Policy and Partnerships).




Eugene Walker wished to put some context to the budget process and noted that a report was brought to the Co-operative Executive in September 2021 which detailed the financial situation faced by the Council. He explained that last year’s budget was balanced despite many pressures. He noted that a number of services had been significantly affected due to lost income during the pandemic; a situation faced across the country. He advised that Government funding had assisted but that pressures on some services were still being faced, particularly adult social care, children’s social care and leisure services. Eugene emphasised the importance of understanding the challenge ahead and of setting clear priorities in planning forward to influence future budgets.




Laurie Brennan added that there was an increase in focus on issues contained in the One Year Plan that allowed the organisation to look more at longer term objectives over the next 3 to 5 years. This would assist in building a comprehensive forward plan with a strategic focus and a priority led budget.




Laurie noted that conversations had already begun with Transitional Committees to determine their critical priorities collectively. He added that activity would take place outside of this meeting to consider feedback in more detail. This would create foundations for future years.




Members made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were provided as follows: -


  • This year’s budget process was well underway and would continue to be developed between now and December. Comments and feedback would be welcome during this time to feed into the process, which would also assist for the following financial year.


  • Future priority budgeting would be about the outcomes that could be achieved and would include the HRA Business Plan.


  • This was the start of the process and was about deciding priorities and setting the budget accordingly. Executive Members would be involved which would support longer term planning.


  • Uncertainty about the decision-making process of the Committee was acknowledged and the need for Committee members to be kept informed of processes and timescales.


  • It was noted that the Governance Committee had overall oversight of transitional issues, but that individual Transitional Committees had the opportunity to consider and debate their own ideas collectively.


  • The importance of setting priorities was noted, and that Transitional Committees were about discussing the process and developing and encouraging new ways of working and trying innovative ideas. Voting was expected from time to time to ensure all Committee members views were represented.


  • It was noted that Transitional Committees were about communities and priorities, and it was suggested that working groups would be useful in discussing issues between formal meetings.




Councillor Cate McDonald thanked members for their comments and welcomed further feedback via email on any subsequent conversations between members of the Committee.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-

(a)  notes the information now reported, together with the responses to the questions raised; and

(b)  thanks Councillor Cate MacDonald, Eugene Walker and Laurie Brennan for attending the meeting, and responding to the questions raised.