This report presented the Council’s draft capital and revenue budgets for 2024/25. It noted that the draft budget was based on the principles contained in the Medium Term Financial Outlook 2023-2028 (MTFO), which had been reported to Cabinet on 26 September 2023. Draft budget requirements for the directorates in 2024/25 were set out in sections 7 to 9 of the report.
The report explained that initial projections for the costs of services in 2024/25 amounted to an increase in the budget requirement of £60.123million. Allowing for initial projections for income growth of £21.378million, the MTFO projections had arrived at a potential budget gap for the Council of £38.745million. Work undertaken since the MTFO was projected to increase the Council’s income and deliver savings that would reduce the projected gap to £35.798million.
The report reflected the introduction of a new approach to balancing the Council’s budget, whereby each Directorate would operate within an agreed budget allocation for 2024/25. The Directorate budget allocations reflected in the Draft Budget therefore assumed the delivery of savings and additional income equal to the potential budget gap identified.
The report noted that in accordance with the Constitution, this report was the first stage of the budget consultation process leading to further consideration by Cabinet on 13 February 2024 and formal budget and council tax setting by Council on 29 February 2024. Budget proposals would now be submitted to the Council’s overview and scrutiny committees for consideration.
The Cabinet instructed officers to continue to work with Portfolio Holders in formulating robust proposals to balance the budget for 2024/25.
The Cabinet referred the Draft Capital and Revenue Budgets to overview and scrutiny committees, inviting them to offer comments on the proposals.
The Cabinet recommended to Full Council that in February 2024, when setting the Council Tax, the following changes be applied to Council Tax premia in line with the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018, as set out in paragraph 9.18 of the report:
· The 100% premium for long-term empty properties may be brought forward so that it could commence after being empty for one year rather than two, with effect from 1 April 2024; and
· A 100% premium may be charged for properties that were unoccupied but furnished (known as second homes), with effect from 1 April 2025.
The Cabinet recommended to Full Council that in February 2024, when setting the Council Tax, the following changes be applied to the Council Tax discretionary discounts, as set out in paragraph 9.18 of the report:
· Reduce the discount in respect of class C to 0% from the day on which a property becomes vacant; and
· Reduce the discount in respect of class D to 0%.
It is the responsibility of Cabinet to develop initial budget proposals for consideration by overview and scrutiny committees. These Draft Budget proposals were the first stage of the budget consultation process leading to further consideration by Cabinet on 13 ... view the full minutes text for item 7