(i) A new Council Tax Policy, outlined in the Executive’s report, to apply a 100% discount to care leavers up to the age of 25 be adopted.
(ii) The updated thresholds to the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme, outlined in the Executive's report to reflect changes in allowances and premiums in line with Government benefits, be adopted.
(i) The national and local service context, outlined in Annex 1 to the report, be noted.
(ii) The service proposals, set out in the report presented, which responded to national and local service context to deliver corporate priorities, be endorsed.
(iii) The draft business plans for 2020/21 to 2024/25 be approved, and that Heads of Service be authorised to finalise the plans for their service areas, in consultation with the relevant Portfolio Holders.
(iv) The following be approved for consultation under the Council’s budget and policy framework:
- Medium Term Financial Plan Summary (Annex 2);
- Revenue Budget Savings and Additional Income proposals totalling £1.618 million (Annex 3);
- Revenue Budget Growth proposals totalling £3.742 million (Annex 3);
- Capital Investment Strategy Summary (Annex 4);
- Capital Programme Growth proposals of £9.910 million (Annex 5).
(v) The Fees and Charges Policy, set out at Annex 6, be approved.
(vi) The Reserves Policy, set out at Annex 7.2, be approved.
(vii) The Medium Term Financial Plan forecast for 2021/22 onwards and the proposed action to address the forecast revenue budget gap be noted.
Councillor T. Schofield, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance, introduced a report setting out service and financial planning proposals for 2020/21 and changes in relation to council tax policy.
As set out in the report, the Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance highlighted that proposals for 2020/21 had been based on a full and robust assessment. It was noted that this work had been carried out by Executive Members, supported by the Management Team and a Budget Advisory Working Group.
Councillor Schofield highlighted that the proposals set out in the report would allow for a continuation of high quality services. It was recognised that this would result in an increased budget requirement for 2020/21 but that this would be partly offset by savings and the generation of additional income.
In response to questions about presenting a balanced budget to Full Council in February 2020, it was explained that a net increase in service budgets, of £2.2 million, would be addressed through a review of central budgets that was in progress, combined with a proposed council tax increase and drawing on reserves if necessary.
A number of issues were considered in relation to revenue reserves and the fact the Council no longer received revenue support grant from Government and was therefore developing new income streams to replace Government funding. The Executive went on to consider proposals for the Capital Programme, including £9.9 million of investment for new capital schemes and the continuation of existing rolling maintenance programmes. The work that was already underway to develop proposals relating to the Housing Delivery Strategy and Environmental Strategy was also highlighted.
In terms of council tax proposals, Councillor Schofield explained that it was always a difficult decision to increase Council Tax. It was noted that the proposals would see the Reigate and Banstead element of a Band D charge increase by 9 pence per week (based on a £5 increase). Councillor Schofield outlined that for less than £4.50 each a week, residents would benefit from waste and recycling collections, clean streets and award winning open spaces. The Council would also continue to provide leisure and community centres, health and wellbeing services, housing, community development and business support services. In addition, residents would benefit from various regeneration and place improvement activities across the borough, and from statutory services provided, such as planning, environmental health and licensing.
Councillor Schofield went on to outline proposals to introduce a 100% council tax discount for care leavers up to the age of 25. It was noted that this would contribute to a county-wide initiative, promoted by Surrey County Council. The Executive was informed that the local Council Tax Reduction scheme would remain unchanged, other than reflecting changes in allowances and premiums in line with Government benefits.
During the discussion, both the Leader and Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance responded to questions on service and financial proposals, including proposals to adopt the new council tax policy. It was also highlighted that the Chair of the Overview ... view the full minutes text for item 61