Agenda item

Draft Budget Proposals for 2022/23

To consider the attached report on the draft Budget proposals for 2022/23.



C Hartgrove introduced the draft budget report for 2022/23. He noted that the Cabinet had considered an early draft Budget proposal for 2022/23 at its meeting on 6th December 2021. The full report included revenue and capital proposals for both the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account as well as a schedule of suggested Fees and Charges for the forthcoming financial year. An updated Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) covering the financial years 2022/23 through to 2026/27 was also included, which reflected both the impact of the draft Budget proposals as well as the latest available intelligence at the time.


In recognising the important role of scrutiny in developing a robust budget, the Cabinet also requested that the Stronger Council Select Committee considers the draft Budget proposals for 2022/23, as well as the associated documents.


The Cabinet were advised by the Section 151 Officer at their December meeting that – as required by law – that a balanced revenue position (eliminating a previously identified projected deficit of £1.504 million) had provisionally been reached for 2022/23 and that the medium-term financial position was broadly unchanged compared to the position presented on 11th October 2021 (and subsequently to this Committee on 16th November 2021); with a particular challenge still anticipated in 2024/25 and 2025/26 as a consequence of the forthcoming new Waste Management Contract. Some significant uncertainties remained however, especially as the annual Settlement for 2022/23 had yet to be announced by the Government at that stage.


The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2022/23 was eventually released on 16th December 2021; the outcome for Epping Forest District Council was generally as expected and provided further assurance as to the underlying financial sustainability of the draft Budget proposals as currently presented.


Councillor Bassett thanked the officers for the report and making it easy for the layman to understand. He asked about the recent high rise in Gas and Electric prices and asked if the figures shown were current. C Hartgrove replied that these were the figures that he was given, but he would cross check them in the coming week. A Small added that inflation was one of the greatest risks facing the Council now. There was doubt about energy prices and now also about wage settlements. We have now got a one year Government settlement for the year ahead. We were expecting a three year settlement to give us some certainty but the government was still intending to implement a ‘fairer funding’ change to the way it distributed grant settlements and we did not know how that would impact upon us. But, the situation could be worse, and justified having a council tax increase after many years. Now was also the right time to build up the Council’s balances. It was a sound budget.


Councillor Neville thanked the officers for their hard work. It had been a difficult financial situation over the last few years. As for the fees and charges, he would like to see the figures associated with them as they had show with the car parking fees. If we could have a breakdown on how much you had expected to raise with these fees, it would give us a better understanding going forward.


Councillor Philip said that car parking had been discussed at Cabinet and it was one of the areas where we had to raise our charges. The draft fees and charges table in the agenda showed where we would have an impact and that they were all interrelated. We had made the report easier to read this year and all credit to the finance department for doing this.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse said that this was a good report and was easy to read. He noted that there were still uncertainties until the budget was finalised. He was pleased to see an increase in the disabled facilities budget in the HRA budget. He noted the £165k set aside for the improvement of the Council Chamber, this was a lot of money, why was it so much. A Small said that this was just a marker for now, we would have to look closely at what needed doing. Councillor Philip added that this was a listed building and so it would be difficult and costly to do. We must make a good investment for the future as you paid for what you got.




The Committee considered and commented on the Cabinet’s draft Budget proposals for 2022/23.



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