[NOTE: All officers, apart from the Democratic Services Officer who had been asked by the Executive Board to remain in the meeting to record the decision, left the meeting during consideration and determination of proposals regarding the pay award for staff.]
The Executive Board considered a report which brought together the latest proposals for the Revenue Budget 2016/2017 with indicative figures for the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 financial years and summarised the latest budgetary position giving an update on the budget validation, spending pressures, the Welsh Government final settlement and the responses from the budget consultation.
The Executive Board Member - Resources advised that following the consultation period the Executive Board had considered amendments to a number of proposals detailed within the report and it was hoped that this would demonstrate that the Authority had listened to the views expressed as part of the consultation exercise. The following amendments were therefore proposed:-
· The reduction in the Flood Defence, Land Drainage and Coastal Protection budget is withdrawn for the 3 years, total value of £118k;
· The reduction in Highways Infrastructure maintenance budget is removed for year 1, total value of £512k;
· The reduction in the Cleansing services and Environment Enforcement budget is removed for each of the 3 years, total value of £252k;
· The proposal to introduce a charge for home to school transport is deferred for 2 years.
· The Meals on Wheels increase in the meal cost be phased over 3 years as opposed to be implemented in one, reducing the saving in year 1 by £38k.
· The saving for short breaks/respite for Disabled Children and young people be removed altogether, taking away a cut of £50k.
In addition to the above it was proposed that there be additional investment into the following two specific service areas:
1. Youth Service - £50k to ‘Bolster professional capacity to strengthen expertise in safeguarding vulnerable young people, especially with respect to sexual exploitation and the risk of radicalisation, thereby supporting prevention and early intervention strategies to avoid disengagement, supporting pathway to employment or training opportunities and minimising the number of young people at risk of becoming NEET.’
2. Highways Infrastructure - £200k to fund £2.4m of capital expenditure on the highways and supporting infrastructure network in the areas of greatest need.
It was considered that adopting these proposals would use a significant amount of the money identified in the report [p.186] but would also allow the Council the opportunity to review the level of Council Tax increase and it was therefore proposed that the Council Tax increase be reduced to 3.85%.
The Executive Board thanked officers for their hard work in preparing a realistic and sustainable budget and for organising a comprehensive consultation process.
In response to a question from Councillor J. Edmunds as to whether savings could be achieved on the budget allocated to meet redundancy costs in schools the Chief Executive advised that school staffing decisions rested with the schools and the Authority had no input yet had to pick up the cost. The Authority would however continue to lobby to change this arrangement. In response to a further question from Councillor J. Edmunds regarding care home costs the Chief Executive advised that, taking into account private care home costs and inflation, the proposals in terms of the Council’s care homes were considered to be fair.
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND TO COUNCIL:-
14.1 that the Budget Strategy for 2016/17, be approved subject to the amendments and proposals detailed above;
14.2 that the Band D council Tax for 2016/17 be set at £1,117.67 (an increase of 3.85% for 2016-2017);
14.3 to consolidate the nationally agreed 1% pay award for JNC staff with effect from 1st April 2016 and approve a 1% pay award for all other staff with effect from 1st April 2016 which would be consolidated by, but not in addition to, any national pay award agreed in 2016;
14.4 That the Director of Corporate Services will advise and recommend to County Council on 10th March of any impact and consequential action required from the Final Settlement which is due to be published by Welsh Government on 2nd March 2016, and debated on 9th March 2016.