Agenda item

General Fund Revenue and Capital Budgets 2020-2021


The Mayor proposed a suspension of standing orders under Rule 25 to enable the mover and seconders the opportunity to speak for a maximum of 10 minutes and that no other speech exceeds 5 minutes in relation to items 7, 8, 9, and 10.  This was agreed by Council.


Councillor Eldred submitted a report which reported the outcome of the consultation process on the 2020/21 general fund revenue and capital budget and the government funding settlement for 2020/21.  He thanked his Cabinet colleagues, the Section 151 officer and staff for their help to make this budget possible.  The proposal was recommending an increase to the council tax of £5 per year per band D property for 2020-21.  Investment had been made to the capital programme.


Councillor Nunn seconded the report.


At this point Councillor Stone introduced the Labour Groups budget statement indicating that the budget included £1.5m of savings and nine proposed redundancies.  The Council’s accounts had failed external audits value for money test for a number of years.  The risks regarding failure to secure the additional funding from the disposal of garden waste income was highlighted, along with the reduction of the Councillor Community Fund. 


It was felt that an anti-poverty strategy to reduce inequalities and improve residents’ lives was needed and this would reduce overall costs to the county.  The Council should work in partnership with Homes England and the councils housing stock outside of the HRA and the Right to Buy schemes needed to be replenished.  It was suggested that a grants officer should be appointed to source additional funding.  It was felt that the budget presented did not meet the growth agenda and that it did not include the additional costs regarding the Community Governance Review. 


Councillor Birch seconded the budget statement expressing that Northampton could consider becoming the first electric bus town which would enable climate change targets to be met.  It was felt that the town had a number of marketable assets, such as its parks and the Guildhall which could be used to generate more income.  A fee could be charged for holding a commercial event in a park for example.  


There were currently seventeen utilities companies supplying council properties which could be switched to one, greener energy, provider saving money.  LED lighting could be installed in all council buildings and all council vehicles could be converted to run on electric.


In response Councillor Eldred clarified the Council was investing in properties because it was cheaper to do so and the number of people claiming job seekers allowance had fallen by 38% over the last ten years.


At this point Councillor B Markham introduced the Liberal Democrats budget statement indicating there was nothing new in the budget proposed.  The main objective of the budget was to ensure it balanced and did not pass on any debt or commit the unitary authorities to spending.  The budget pressures regarding homelessness had been indicated previously however it was felt little had been done to address them. 


It was felt that charging for the disposal of garden waste had been introduced to supplement the budget and would be an environmental disaster and could lead to more fly-tipping. 


Councillor Beardsworth seconded the Liberal Democrats budget statement indicating that less environmentally friendly options would be sought to dispose of garden waste due to the additional charge.  The Councillor Community Fund was used to help small organisations and the reduction would be noticed.


In response Councillor Eldred explained that many people had already subscribed to pay for the disposal of their garden waste and new collection routes would be implemented and would achieve additional savings.


During discussions it was noted that many of the housing issues stemmed from the ‘right to buy’ scheme because the housing stock could not be replenished fast enough.  The use of food banks and universal credit had not diminished.  The Councillor Community Fund enabled many residents’ associations to be viable.  It was felt the budget focused on the removal of things such as the deletion of vacant posts rather than growth and regeneration.  The general fund budget included funding for temporary accommodation and new housing throughout the year. 


In response Councillor Eldred explained that the return on installation of solar panels on buildings was twenty to twenty-five years and LED lighting was being installed.


At this point the Mayor called for the recommendations to be voted upon.  This was a recorded vote with the following result:


Voting for the recommendations: Councillors Ansell, Eldred, Flavell, Golby, Hadland, Hallam, Hibbert, Hill, King, Lane, Larratt, Malpas, M Markham, Nunn, Oldham, Parekh, Patel, Sargeant, and Walker.


Voting against the recommendations: Councillors Ashraf, Beardsworth, Birch, Duffy, G Eales, T Eales, Haque, Joyce, B Markham, Marriott, Meredith, Russell, Roberts, Smith and Stone. 


The Mayor Councillor Choudary abstained from the vote. 


Councillor Kilbride was not present for the vote on this item.


The recommendations in the report were agreed.


RESOLVED: That Council agreed:

1.    That the feedback from consultation with the public, organisations and the Overview and Scrutiny and Audit Committees be considered and welcomed (detailed at appendices 9, 10 and 11).

2.    That a general fund revenue budget for 2020/21 of £27.770m (excluding parishes, or £29.006m including parish precepts) be approved (detailed in appendices 1 and 2).

3.    That the Council increases the council tax for its own purposes (excluding County, Police, Fire and Parish Precepts) by £5.00 (2.21%) per year per average band D property for 2020/21.

4.    That the Council approve the general fund capital budget and outline programme and proposed financing for 2020/21, including the schemes in the development pool, as set out in appendix 4.

5.    That Council confirm a minimum level of general fund balances for 2020/21 of £3.0m that reflects the risks being faced by the Council, with a prudent level of £4.0m included in the budget setting, and also note the position on earmarked reserves (appendix 7).

6.    That authority be delegated to the Chief Finance Officer in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance, and where appropriate the relevant Head of Service and Cabinet Member to:

·         Transfer monies to/from earmarked reserves as appropriate during the financial year; and

·         Update prudential indicators in both the prudential indicators report and treasury strategy report to Council, for any budget changes that impact on these.

7.    That the draft fees and charges set out in appendix 8 be approved, including immediate implementation where appropriate. Note the one small amendment to the fees and charges schedule as detailed at section 3.1.3.

8.    That Council approve the treasury management strategy (and associated appendices) for 2020/21 at appendix 5 of this report.

9.    That authority be delegated to the Council’s Chief Finance Officer, in liaison with the Cabinet Member for Finance, to make any temporary changes needed to the Council’s borrowing and investment strategy to enable the authority to meet its obligations.

10.That Council delegate authority to the Chief Executive, Heads of Service and Chief Finance Officer to implement all budget options and restructures.


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