Report of Councillor P Parkin, Portfolio Holder for Finance.
The Chair agreed to consider the report recommendations in two parts. Council would consider recommendations 1-6 followed by recommendations 7-13.
Council received a report which sought approval of the current budget for 2021/22 and original budget for 2022/23 for the General Fund, Housing Revenue Account and Capital Programme as part of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan covering the years 2021/22 to 2025/26.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance informed Council that he was pleased to present a balanced budget for the upcoming financial year, particularly given the deficit that was left by the previous administration, and the impact of the Pandemic on the Council’s Finances. The Assistant Director – Finance and Resources (S151 Officer) and her team were thanked for their hard work.
Council noted that much of last year’ National Settlement had been rolled over, including the New Homes Bonus, and the inclusion of a one off Services’ Grant. There were also proposals from Government for future funding reforms.
Councillor P Parkin explained that a strong and effective culture of financial management were endemic in the Organisation, and discussed some of the savings targets and efficiency saving projects such as the Digital Transformation Strategy.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance reiterated that the Council understood the financial pressures on households within North East Derbyshire, however in order to maintain the high quality services that it offered to residents it was proposing a 2.58% rise in Council Tax.
Councillor D Hancock commented that he was disappointed with the lack of detail within the MTFP in regards to how the Council was going to achieve its savings targets, and expressed concern at the robustness of the financial projections.
Councillor N Barker thanked officers for their hard work and commented that overall it had been a good year for the Council’s finances. Council heard that therefore he did not support the increase to Council Tax, given the cost of living crisis for residents. He also disputed the claims made by the Portfolio Holder for Finance in regards to the budget shortfall left by the previous administration.
Councillor R Shipman expressed disappointment that there were no detailed plans as to how the budget would be balanced in future financial years.
Councillor P Parkin clarified his comments about previous budget shortfalls to the MTFP, and advised Council that it had been presented with an action plan on how the budget would be balanced.
Councillors P Wright, P Wheelhouse, R Welton, M E Thacker MBE JP, K Tait, L Stone, B Strafford-Stephenson, D Ruff, M Roe, C Renwick, A Powell, M Potts, A Platts, P Parkin, H Liggett, B Lewis, J Kenyon, R Hall, O Gomez Reaney, M Foster, M Emmens, P Elliott, L Deighton, C Cupit and S Clough.
Councillors R Shipman, G Morley, T Lacey, P R Kerry, L Hartshorne, D Hancock, S Cornwell and N Barker.
Councillors T Reader, J Lilley, J Funnell, A Cooper and J Birkin.
(1) That the view of the Assistant Director – Finance & Resources, that the estimates included in the Medium Term Financial Plan 2021/22 to 2025/26 are robust and that the level of financial reserves whilst at minimum levels are adequate, be accepted.
(2) That officers report back to Cabinet and the Audit and Corporate Governance Scrutiny Committee on a quarterly basis regarding the overall position in respect of the Council’s budgets. These reports to include updates on achieving the savings and efficiencies necessary to secure a balanced budget over the life of the medium term financial plan.
(3) A Council Tax increase of £4.99 will be levied in respect of a notional Band D property (2.58%).
(4) The Medium Term Financial Plan in respect of the General Fund as set out in the report to Cabinet (Appendix 1) be approved as the Current Budget 2021/22, as the Original Budget 2022/23, and as the financial projections in respect of 2023/24 to 2025/26.
(5) That the General Fund Capital Programme be approved as the Current Budget in respect of 2021/22, and as the Approved Programme for 2022/23 to 2025/26.
(6) That any under spend in respect of 2021/22 be transferred to the Resilience Reserve to provide increased financial resilience for future years of the plan.
Councillors D Ruff, R Welton, H Liggett and S Clough withdrew from the meeting.
In the absence of the Chair and Vice Chair of Council, Council elected a Chair for the remainder of the agenda item.
Councillor N Barker nominated himself. This was seconded by Councillor R Shipman. On being put to a vote, the motion was defeated.
Councillor M Foster nominated Councillor B Lewis. This was seconded by Councillor J Kenyon. On being put to a vote, Council accepted this nomination.
Councillor M E Thacker withdrew from the meeting.
Councillor B Lewis took the Chair.
Council then considered the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) in relation to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
The Portfolio Holder for Finance advised Members that the Authority was recommending to Council that rents were increased in-line with government guidance at 4.1%, and that the RHL management fee had been renegotiated in-line with the requirements of the new agreement which would be £9.75 million for next year.
Councillors N Barker and R Shipman spoke against the increase to rents as too big of a rise for Council tenants and that this should be challenged.
Councillor P Parkin acknowledged that the rent increase was a large amount, however argued that Rykneld had to live in the current economy which was experiencing ever increasing costs.
Councillor R Shipman proposed that Council resolved to not increase rents by 4.1% and instead remove itself from the Social Housing Rent Standard. This was seconded by Councillor D Hancock.
Councillors L Stone, R Shipman, T Reader, G Morley, J Lilley, T Lacey, L Hartshorne, D Hancock, J Funnell, S Cornwell, A Cooper, J Birkin and N Barker.
Councillors P Wright, P Wheelhouse, K Tait, B Strafford-Stephenson, M Roe, C Renwick, A Powell, M Potts, A Platts, P Parkin, H Liggett, B Lewis, J Kenyon, R Hall, O Gomez Reaney, M Foster, M Emmens, P Elliott, L Deighton and C Cupit.
Councillor P R Kerry
On being put to a vote the motion was defeated.
Moved by Councillor P Parkin and seconded by Councillor C Cupit.
Councillors P Wright, P Wheelhouse, K Tait, B Strafford-Stephenson, M Roe, C Renwick, A Powell, M Potts, A Platts, P Parkin, H Liggett, B Lewis, J Kenyon, O Gomez Reaney, M Foster, M Emmens, P Elliott, L Deighton and C Cupit.
Councillors R Shipman, G Morley, T Lacey, L Hartshorne, D Hancock, S Cornwell and A Cooper.
Councillors L Stone, T Reader, J Lilley, P R Kerry, R Hall, J Funnell, J Birkin and N Barker.
Housing Revenue Account (HRA)
(7) That Council sets its rent levels for 2022/23 in line with the Social Housing Rent Standard increasing rents by 4.1% from 1st April 2022.
(8) That all other charges be implemented in line with the table shown in Appendix 1 with effect from 1 April 2022.
(9) The Medium Term Financial Plan in respect of the Housing Revenue Account as set out in the report to Cabinet (Appendix 1) be approved as the Current Budget in respect of 2021/22, as the Original Budget in respect of 2022/23, and the financial projection in respect of 2023/24 to 2025/26.
(10) That the HRA Capital Programme be approved as the Current Budget in respect of 2021/22, and as the Approved Programme for 2022/23 to 2025/26.
(11) That the Management Fee for undertaking housing services at£9.751m and the Management Fee for undertaking capital works at£1.100m to Rykneld Homes in respect of 2022/23 be approved.
(12) That Members endorse the section in the current Financial Protocol which enables the Council to pay temporary cash advances to Rykneld Homes in excess of the Management Fee in order to help meet the cash flow requirements of the company should unforeseen circumstances arise in any particular month.
(13) That Members note the requirement to provide Rykneld Homes with a ‘letter of comfort’ to the company’s auditors and grant delegated authority to the Council’s Assistant Director – Finance & Resources in consultation with the Portfolio Member for Finance to agree the contents of that letter.
Councillors M E Thacker, D Ruff, R Welton, H Liggett and S Clough re-entered the meeting.
Councillor M E Thacker took the Chair.