Agenda item


A report from the Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities is attached.

· The Council’s Budget 2023/24 and the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023/24 - 2026/27 (Appendix 4 attached)

· The Dedicated Schools Grant and setting the Schools Budget 2023- 24

· Capital Strategy and Capital programme 2023/24

· Flexible use of Capital Receipts Strategy 2023/24

· Treasury Management Strategy and Prudential Indicators 2023/24


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance provided an overview of the budget reports, there comprised of:


·         The Council’s Budget 2023/24 and the Medium-Term Financial Strategy 2023/24 - 2026/27 (Appendix 4 attached)

·         The Dedicated Schools Grant and setting the schools Budget 2023- 24

·         Capital Strategy and Capital programme 2023/24

·         Flexible use of Capital Receipts Strategy 2023/24

·         Treasury Management Strategy and Prudential Indicators 2023/24


Councillor Gold advised members the budget is set amongst the backdrop of the economic crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising energy costs, rising interest rates, rising inflation and also the local context of the Children’s Improvement journey and workforce shortages, particularly social workers. The funding settlement did result in a welcome increase in grants over and above those previously anticipated, but these are nonrecurrent. The proposal is to approve an increase in Council Tax of 2.99% in terms of General Council Tax and a further 2% for the Adult Social Care Precept in each of the 2023/24 and 2024/25 financial years.


Spending pressures identified within the budget reports are:

·         £1million for utilities

·         £1million per annum for 2 years to fund the children’s safeguarding



Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance opened to questions from Committee Members.


·         Cllr Boles questioned about the increase in Education Health and Care Plans and stated we have more people than ever before with them, he asked if this a concern for future overspend and what reassurances do we have that these monies provided to schools are spent effectively.


Jeanette Richards, Executive Director of Children and Young People advised it is ensuring need for children is appropriately met and EHC plans are a vehicle to ensuring this. Bury has seen growth in the number of children who require an EHC Plan. Bury has strengthened the support before EHC Plans to support children and families and supporting schools. In addition, once a child does have a plan it is about ensuring it is robust and scrutiny to check the planned support does yield better outcomes for the child. There is also multi agency audits of Education Health and Care Plans.


·         Councillor Lancaster questioned the Councillors Discretionary Budget


Committee Members were advised it is not in the budget.


·         Councillor Lancaster questioned if consideration to selling the Restaurant in Lytham St Annes has been given.


Paul Lakin, Executive Director of Place advised the property has been re-let, and there are tenants in the building, there are several properties that were acquires simultaneously several years ago and they are continually monitored.


·         Councillor Moss asked for assurances about the use reserves


In response Sam Evans Executive Director of Finance advised she has undertaken a piece of work this year looking at all of the reserves and this will be completed as part of the year end process, we will have the amount of reserves to smooth but we are not in a position to not use any further so we will be looking to replenish reserves in future


·         Councillor Walsh asked about the reduction in Public Health staffing and asked to express thanks to their work and expertise especially over the pandemic.


Will Blandamer, Executive Director of Strategic Commissioning advised the Council benefited greatly from the department for public health and through their expertise. There are several savings identified in public health there are savings around a closer management structure for Substance Misuse and there are also opportunities to ensure the budget reflects several parttime posts in the team. We are looking at the number of consultant posts in the team and we can reduce the senior leadership due to the effective management of the team.  Will assured members of the effective leadership of the team and quality of wider staff.


·         Councillor Walsh questioned about the reduction in apprenticeship posts.


Sam Evans, Executive Director of Finance advised as part of the Finance restructure there was the creation of 13 new apprenticeship posts which are all new posts 6 of those posts have been retained and a number of staff have moved onto new training as part of the apprenticeship levy so it is not cutting staff it is only removing unfilled posts projected in the restructure.


·         Councillor Walsh asked about the proposed removal of financial innovation and project team.


Sam Evans, Executive Director of Finance and part of the restructure there are a large number of pieces of work needed. So as part of the restructure there has been the establishment of a team that will do these as project work, and they will be in place until September 2024 following the upskilling of the teams.


·         Councillor Bernstein highlighted the reserves are low and we do not want them to go lower; is the culture right and what is the strategy for building up reserves.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance advised that since the last budget there have been massive increases in demand and inflation. Departments have progressed and changed over the last twelve months and will continue to change. Officers will be continually monitoring the budget and joined up working will continue across all the departments. In addition, Sam Evans Executive Director of Finance advised we recognise that next year was not going to be the year to build our reserves due to the size of the gap, but every external funding is scrutinised and everything we do is then considered to replenish reserves.


·         Councillor Vernon questioned the reserves position currently.


Sam Evans Director of Finance advised that based on calculations currently leaves us with at a 7% and CIPFA resilience states we should be between 5-10% based upon our current revenue budget.


·         Cllr FitzGerald asked how the measurement of the Equality and Impact Assessment takes place and how it takes place on a person level. In addition, Councillor FitzGerald expressed that knowing how many people are impacted by certain decisions will be beneficial.


Cllr Gold advised Section 22 states the NHS is legally responsible for part such as the reminder calls for medication; this will be a phased approach for the NHS to take up these responsibilities along with pharmacies. Will Blandamer, Executive Director advised there will be reporting and reviewing mechanisms in place to ensure there is not a negative impact. There is a lot of reviewing of packages, but some will be establishing new systems of working. The impacts will be tracked through the key performance indicators in the Corporate Plan and the state of the Borough Report.


·         Councillor Green highlighted the potential care visits for medication being changed to pharmacies or GP’s and Councillor Walsh raised concerns around people falling through the gaps especially in regard to mental health such as non-compliance with medication and the risks of a psychotic break.


In response Will Blandamer Executive Director advised that we are one of the last Council’s to provide this as it is NHS duty, and we won’t just stop we just won’t pick up new cases.


·         Councillor Moss highlighted the pay award, and this has been built in for next year; in addition, he asked about risk


In response Lynne Ridsdale, Deputy Chief Executive advised there is a risk register and this is monitored regularly and is articulated in the papers.


·         Councillor Birchmore questioned if Bury is expecting any dividends in the investment in the airport this year and how are the loan repayments.

In response Sam Evans, Executive Director of Finance advised it will be 2026/27 when we are expecting dividends coming back. However, in terms of loan repayments we have had a conversation with the Financial Director of Manchester Airport Group and they are intending to make a first loan interest repayment this financial year which is expected by the end of March 2023.


·         Councillor Birchmore also asked if the interest has increased on the loan, we took out for Manchester Airport Group.


Members were advised it was borrowed at a fixed rate.


·         Councillor Bernstein questioned about Project Safety Valve and the risk


Sam Evans, Executive Director of Finance advised that we recently submitted our latest submission to the Department for Education and our advisors have submitted a positive report too. We are working with the Department for Education, and we have the national dispensation, so it is not a risk to reserves at this time.


·         Councillor Vernon questioned about the budget setting over the next two years


Sam Evans, Executive Director of Finance advised we are setting a one-year budget but we can increase our Council Tax and Adult Social Care value for two years so we can plan towards our 2024/25 budget.


Councillor Vernon thanked Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance for his attendance this evening. In addition, he thanked Councillor FitzGerald and Councillor Boles for their attendance as Chairs of Health Scrutiny and the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee. Members of the Committee also wished to thank staff for their work over the last year.







Supporting documents: