Agenda item

MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY UPDATE, 2022/23 TO 2024/25

The Director of Finance will present a report (Document “R”)on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) that sets out the financial envelope for the Council to deliver its key priorities as set out in the revised Corporate Plan.

 

Prior to Covid, the outlook for Council Finances looked significantly healthier than at any point since 2010. The impact of Covid-19 on Council services through additional expenditure and reducing income, coupled with the impact on the wider economy have now altered that outlook for the worse and have added a great deal of additional uncertainty. Additional pressures on Children’s Social Care, the impact of Brexit, and delays to Government reforms of Local Government finance also add further pressures and uncertainties.

 

The revised forecast identifies for planning purposes a financial gap of £13.4m in 2022-23, increasing to £18.4m in 2023/24 and £18.8m in 2024/25.

 

Recommended -

 

That having considered the Medium Term Financial Strategy as an assessment of the Council’s financial outlook to 2024/25 , and a framework for it to remain financially viable and deliver sustainable public services, in line with its priorities, that Executive approves the updated and revised Medium Term Financial Strategy at Appendix 1 to Document “R”.

 

(Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee)

(Andrew Cross  07870 386523)

Minutes:

The Director of Finance presented a report (Document “R”)on the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) that set out the financial envelope for the Council to deliver its key priorities as set out in the revised Corporate Plan.

 

Prior to Covid, the outlook for Council Finances looked significantly healthier than at any point since 2010. The impact of Covid-19 on Council services through additional expenditure and reducing income, coupled with the impact on the wider economy had now altered that outlook for the worse and had added a great deal of additional uncertainty. Additional pressures on Children’s Social Care, the impact of Brexit, and delays to Government reforms of Local Government finance also added further pressures and uncertainties.

 

The revised forecast identified for planning purposes a financial gap of £13.4m in 2022-23, increasing to £18.4m in 2023/24 and £18.8m in 2024/25. It was noted that a number of mitigations had been put in place and that if they as a worst case, if they did not bring the budget back on track wold result in a financial gap rising from £13.4m to £42m.  It was reported that through prudent financial management in the last two years  there had been no cuts or redundancies.

 

 

The Leader noted the number of financial pressures building on this and other Councils.  She added that the Local Government Association had identified that services were being reduced by £1.4b in adult social care, that in 2016-17 nationally there were 500 child protection processes started every day compared to 200 a decade before.

 

The Healthy People and Places Portfolio Holder referred to the significant length of time that Local Authorities had been urging Government to address the issue of funding adult social care to protect vulnerable adults and noted that the burden should not fall on Local Authorities.  She commended the Bradford Enablement Support Team (BEST) that provided personal care and support to people at home when they were discharged from hospital and had been judged as outstanding and in the top quartile for keeping people in their own home as long as possible.

 

The Leader emphasised that just over 60% of the Council’s budget was spent on children’s and adult social care, protecting the most vulnerable and that there was a pressing need for it to be properly funded.  She stressed the need for surety of funding post Covid.  She added that as furlough ended this month it would have an impact on businesses and on Council revenue.

 

The Healthy People and Places Portfolio Holder noted the increased pressure on waste services brought about by people working from home which had increased the tonnage of kerbside collections she noted that there was a £1m budgetary pressure.

 

The Leader referred to the ongoing Covid pressures on finance.  Investment in prevention and early help was keeping people at home as long as possible.  She noted that more finance was being requested for education, skills and green jobs.  She added that a Government announcement was expected in the next month on Northern Powerhouse Rail.

 

A member of the opposition group referred to the uncertainty in forecasting and noted the risks associated with the forecast listed in the report.  He noted that with reference to Council Tax, prudent assumptions were made regarding demographic growth.  He also referred to the £1.25m regeneration opportunity referred to in the recurring pressures that result from previously agreed plans.

 

The Leader acknowledged that there were lots of unknowns but stressed the need to look ahead and forecast spending.  She would welcome cross party involvement in making the voice of Local Government known to Central Government regarding adequate funding for front line social care.

 

Resolved -

 

That having considered the Medium Term Financial Strategy as an assessment of the Council’s financial outlook to 2024/25 , and a framework for it to remain financially viable and deliver sustainable public services, in line with its priorities, the updated and revised Medium Term Financial Strategy at Appendix 1 to Document “R” be approved.

 

Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee

ACTION: Director of Finance

 

Supporting documents: