To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached Report.
Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the Report that outlined the assumptions that had been built into the budget for 2020/21.
Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following matters:
- This was the 4th Report in the process of setting the budget.
- The Queens Speech (19 December 2019) included the importance of Business Rates to local authority funding, retail discount relief would increase from 33% to 50% and a proposed Planning White Paper that would make the planning process clearer and address resource issues experienced at local authority level.
- The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2020/21 was announced on 20 December 2019. The settlement was for 1 year only which made strategic financial planning difficult.
- The settlement included a decision by Government to consult on the future of New Homes Bonus spring 2020.
- Legacy payments for New Homes Bonus would no longer be paid. TWBC responded to a Government Technical consultation (closing on 17 January 2020) their disappointment that the 4 years of Legacy payments, as originally agreed by Government would not be paid. Councillors endorsed the response to the consultation and the Leader had taken the issue up with Greg Clark MP.
- There were no proposals to uplift the £5 deminimus Council Tax limit for Shire councils.
- The Government’s Budget date had been set for 11 March 2020.
- Expenditure for 2020/21 had been set at £67.4m.
- Government would be undertaking a spending review during the next year that would set out the Departmental spending limits for all Central Government Departments.
- TWBC had done well in the retention of Business Rates due to the higher rateable values that could be attributed to new buildings, new car showrooms and further buildings to come including the new Premier Inn.
- Calverley Square had expected to provide a £34m increase in wider economic benefits which would have resulted in a much higher business rate yield.
- It would be important to attract inward investment into the Borough. The Council continued to work with British Land regarding the improvements to the shopping centre. There were good reasons to be optimistic, the Borough was reasonably placed to benefit from Business Rate growth.
- Recruitment continued to be challenging, with Planning highlighted as a particularly difficult area to recruit staff. The Council were being proactive and looking at different methods of advertising.
- The £2.3m funding strategy for Calverley Square was the level needed for the year 2022. The funding strategy was phased in over a period of time. The elements of the funding strategy which were in the base budget was £328,000. The share of Business Rates was not included as this had a direct relationship with the Calverley Square scheme going forward and the uplift in economic value.
RESOLVED – That the recommendations to Cabinet as set out in the report be supported.