(Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder) To consider a report – to follow.
Mover: Councillor C Whitbread – Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder
The Portfolio Holder submitted a report regarding Budgets and Council Tax Declaration for 2010/11.
The Portfolio Holder reported on the process for preparing the budget which had involved all members through Overview and Scrutiny, the Finance and Performance Management Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet.
Councillor Whitbread advised that the Council could not operate in a vacuum and had suffered the same pressures as businesses and individuals. He asked members to take account of the state of the economy in considering the budget. He suggested that recovery from the recession was very fragile and that it would be easy to step back into recession.
Councillor Whitbread drew attention to the latest version of the Medium Term Strategy which required significant savings from 2011 onwards and he referred to the work already underway to achieve those savings.
The Portfolio Holder advised that the Council had continued to assist residents and local businesses in coping with the recession. For the second year running it had been possible to freeze parking charges and to maintain free parking on Saturdays in many car parks. He pointed out that the Council had assisted businesses in The Broadway, Loughton by reducing their rents if they had been adversely affected by the Town Centre Enhancement works. He stated that during the past year as the Council’s Business Champion he had attended a number of Business Forums. The revaluation of Business Rates had been a matter of great concern. Businesses had suffered from the rises and it was apparent that many small businesses would now fall outside of small business rate relief. He stated that he estimated possibly up to 250 local businesses would be affected and that he would continue to look at ways in which the Council could support them.
Councillor Whitbread drew attention to some key issues which had been addressed in setting budgets. He advised that there was likely to be a reduction in grant as part of the next Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). Best estimates were that the grant would fall at 10% over the next CSR but it could be higher possibly between 15% and 20%.
Councillor Whitbread advised that the Council’s CSB contained a number of income streams that had been adversely affected, to varying degrees, by the current state of the housing market. The main areas of income related to the housing market were Land Charges, Building Control and Development Control. Investment income was also less than the estimate as interest rates had fallen lower than anticipated and seemed set to remain at 0.5% for months to come.
The Portfolio Holder advised that a key priority for 2010/11 would be to use some of the budget allocated for the Customer Transformation Programme to improve the Housing Benefit reception area. He also drew attention to the pressure on Housing Benefits due to the recent recession with an increase of claimants of between 25% and 30%.
Councillor Whitbread drew attention to the next triennial valuation of the Pension Scheme and the future of the National Concessionary Fares Scheme. A potential threat beyond 2010/11 was the removal of the National Concessionary Fares function from districts and the associated reworking of the grant formula which could adversely impact on the Council’s overall financial position. Councillor Whitbread stated that this was an example of how councils’ services changed and evolved over time and required a flexible approach.
The Portfolio Holder advised that the budget as submitted produced a District Council Tax (Band D) of £148.77 for 2010/11,(£146.61 for 2009/10) which represented a 1.5% increase. This represented the second lowest District Council Tax in the county and taking account of the four year Medium Term Strategy of not increasing the tax by more than 2.5% per annum the Council was on course of having the lowest District Council Tax in the county. He emphasised that in becoming the lowest the aim would be to maintain that position.
Councillor Whitbread drew attention to the substantial reserves in the Council’s Capital Account and the Housing Revenue Account. He advised that the Capital Programme provided for £55,000,000 expenditure over the next five years with emphasis being placed on schemes which would either cut revenue costs or generate income.
The meeting noted that the average rent increase for 2010/11 was 2.4% for Council dwellings.
The Portfolio Holder commended the budget to the Council.
Amendment moved by Councillor J M Whitehouse and Seconded by Councillor R Frankel
“(1) That recommendations (3) and (4) be deleted and replaced with:
(3) That the revenue estimates for 2010/11 and the draft capital programme for 2010/11 be approved as set out in Annexes 3, 4, (a-i) and 5 including all contributions to and from reserves as set out in the attached Annexes with the exception that:
the contribution from revenue reserves shall be set at £675,296 (General Fund £668,296/HRA £7,000) resulting in the sum of £20,454,498 to be met from government grants and local taxation (figure 7c) and thus a Council Tax increase of 0.0%.
and that the medium term financial forecast set out in Annexes 8a and 8b be amended as necessary; and
(2) That the following figures be substituted for those currently set out in recommendation (7).
7b - £92,657,826 (total gross income)
7c - £20,454,498 (sum to be met from government grants and local taxation)
7e - £203.04 (basic amount of Council Tax including parish precept)
7g - £146.61 (Band D Council Tax)
7h – Part of the Council’s Area amount
Abbess, Beauchamp and Berners Roding £173.86
Buckhurst Hill £215.86
Epping Town £228.19
Epping Upland £174.51
High Ongar £175.24
Loughton Town £195.79
Moreton Bobbingworth and the Lavers £163.67
North Weald Basset £197.89
Stanford Rivers £174.21
Stapleford Abbotts £159.76
Stapleford Tawney £165.90
Theydon Bois £198.88
Theydon Garnon £162.28
Theydon Mount £160.45
Waltham Abbey Town £241.07
7i – Consequential amendments”
Report as first moved ADOPTED
(1) That the list of CSB growth for the 2010/11 budget (set out in Annex 1) be approved;
(2) That the list of District Development Fund items for the 2010/11 budget (set out in Annex 2) be approved;
(3) That the revenue estimates for 2010/11 and the draft Capital Programme for 2010/11 be approved as set out in Annexes 3, 4 (a-i) and 5 including all contributions to and from reserves as set out in the attached Annexes;
(4) That the medium term financial forecast be approved as set out in Annexes 8 a and 8 b;
(5) That the 2010/11 HRA budget be approved and that the application of rent increases and decreases in accordance with the Government’s rent reforms and the Council’s approved rent strategy, resulting in an average increase of 2.4% from £74.81 to £76.61, be approved.
Declaration of Council Tax
(6) That it be noted that on 26 October 2009, the Finance and Economic Development Portfolio Holder in consultation with the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee calculated the following amounts for the year 2010/11 in accordance with regulations made under Section 33(5) and 34(4) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:
(a) 54,370.4 being the amount calculated by the Council in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) Regulations 1992 as the Council Tax Base for the year;
(b) Part of the Council's Area Tax Base
Essex County Council (General Expenses) 54,370.4
Essex Police Authority 54,370.4
Essex Fire Authority 54,370.4
Epping Forest District Council (General Expenses) 54,370.4
Abbess, Beauchamp & Berners Roding 201.8
Buckhurst Hill 5,288.1
Epping Town 5,025.8
Epping Upland 412.2
High Ongar 558.8
Loughton Town 12,928.4
Moreton, Bobbingworth and The Lavers 677.2
North Weald Bassett 2,578.3
Stanford Rivers 369.6
Stapleford Abbotts 504.9
Stapleford Tawney 71.5
Theydon Bois 1,976.0
Theydon Garnon 61.9
Theydon Mount 108.9
Waltham Abbey Town 8,155.6
being the amounts calculated by the Council in accordance with Regulation 6 of the Regulations as the amounts of the Council Tax Base for the year for dwellings in those parts of the area to which one or more special items relate;
(7) That the following amounts be now calculated for the year 2010/11 in accordance with sections 32 to 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992:
(a) £113,112,324 being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 32(2) (a) - (e) of the Act;
(b) £92,540,386 being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 32(3) (a) - (c) of the Act;
(c) £20,571,938 being the amount by which the aggregate at (a) above exceeds the aggregate at (b) calculated by the Council in accordance with Section 32(4) of the Act as its budget requirement for the year;
(d) £9,415,130 being the aggregate of the sums which the Council estimates will be payable for the year into its General Fund in respect of redistributed Non Domestic Rates and Revenue Support Grant and increased by the amount the Council estimates will be transferred in the year from its Collection Fund to the General Fund in accordance with Section 97(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and the amount which the Council estimates will be transferred from the Collection Fund to the General Fund pursuant to the Collection Fund (Community Charges) (England) Directions 1994 made under Section 98(4) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988;
(e) £205.20 being the amount at (c) above, less the amount at (d) above, all divided by the amount at (6)(a) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with Section 33(1) of the Act as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year;
(f) £3,068,124 being the aggregate amount of all special items referred to in Section 34(1) of the Act;
(g) £148.77 being the amount at (e) above, less the result given by dividing the amount at (f) above by the amount of (6)(a) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with Section 34(2) of the Act as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which no special item relates;
(h) Part of the Council's Area Amount
Abbess, Beauchamp & Berners Roding 176.02
Buckhurst Hill 218.02
Epping Town 230.35
Epping Upland 176.67
High Ongar 177.40
Loughton Town 197.95
Moreton, Bobbingworth and The Lavers 165.83
North Weald Bassett 200.05
Stanford Rivers 176.37
Stapleford Abbotts 161.92
Stapleford Tawney 168.06
Theydon Bois 201.04
Theydon Garnon 164.44
Theydon Mount 162.61
Waltham Abbey Town 243.23
being the amounts given by adding to the amount at (7)(g) above the amounts of the special item or items relating to dwellings in those parts of the Council's area mentioned above divided in each case by the amount at (6)(b) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with Section 34(3) of the Act as the basic amounts of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which one or more special items relate;
(i) the amounts shown in Annex 6 to this report, being the amounts given by multiplying the amounts at (7)(h) above by the number which is the proportion set out in Section 5(1) of the Act, is applicable to dwellings listed in a particular valuation band, divided by the number which in that proportion is applicable to dwellings listed in valuation band D, calculated by the Council in accordance with Section 36(1) of the Act as the amounts to be taken into account for the year in respect of categories of dwellings listed in different valuation bands;
(8) That it be noted that for the year 2010/11 the major precepting authorities have stated that the amounts shown in Annex 7 Part A (tabled) are the precepts issued to the Council in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 for each of the categories of dwellings shown;
(9) That, having calculated the aggregate in each case of the amounts at (7)(i) and (8) above, the Council in accordance with Section 30(2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 hereby sets the amounts in Annex 7 Part B (tabled) as the amounts of Council Tax for the year 2010/11 for each of the categories of dwellings shown;
(10) That the Council's policy of retaining revenue balances at no lower than £4.0M or 25% of the net budget requirement whichever is the higher for the four year period to 2012/13 be amended to no lower than £4.0M or 25% of the net budget requirement whichever is the higher during the four year period up to and including 2013/14;
(11) That the recommendations included in the report on the Prudential Indicators and the Treasury Management Strategy for 2010/11 (set out in Annex 9) be approved; and
(12) That the report of the Chief Financial Officer on the robustness of the estimates for the purposes of the Council’s 2010/11 budgets and the adequacy of the reserves (see Annex 10) be noted.