Agenda item

The Council's Revenue Budget and The Medium Term Financial Strategy

Report and appendices of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities are attached.


Councillor Richard Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities, presented the Council’s 2024/25 budget proposals and the framework for the longer-term Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2024/2027. The report also set out the process that will lead to the agreement of the budget and the setting of the 2024/25 Council Tax at Full Council on the 21 February 2024.


The full suite of documents presented also included:

              Council Tax Setting

              Capital strategy 2024/25 to 2026/27

              Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25

              The Dedicated Schools Grant and the schools’ budget 2024/25

It was noted that this had been considered by Overview and Scrutiny Committee as well as Union meetings.


An increase of 2.99% to Council Tax was being proposed along with a 2% adult social care precept, and the Medium Term Financial Plan reported a budget gap for 2025/26 of £10.627m and 2026/27 of £4.327m, bringing a cumulative three-year budget gap of £30.085m.


Councillor Gold advised that a recommendation regarding the treatment of military compensation was in response to the British Legion campaign, but also added discretionary housing support in addition to their proposals.


Members noted the challenging times and the changes made in Bury over the last 12 months, including the work of the Financial Improvement Panel and the associated financial improvement plan. It was noted that the Budget gap had reduced since December, from £17.243m to £15.131m (this took) account of approved savings of £5.368m). Work was underway to identify additional savings to deal with the further gap and, pending this, the gap will be funded through the use of reserves. Councillor Gold advised that c1.7m had also been announced from the government, which had not been in time to be included in these papers but would be reflected in Quarter 1 reports.


Members discussed the core spending power of the Council noting that although it was very slightly higher than the national average, Bury had been in the lowest 20% for funding and had received 17% increase in demand as well as £11m inflationary costs, which outstripped spending power. With regards to previous savings targets, 93% of these had been achieved and a plan to substantially reduce the remaining 7% would be received in Quarter 1. Officers advised that once previous savings targets had been delivered, work in Children’s Services would continue to address budget concerns before work on the Council’s balance sheet would begin to release assets where possible.



Cabinet approved the recommendations and commended them to Council:


1.    Approved the Medium-Term Financial Strategy for 2024/ 2025, 2026 / 2027 and the assumptions regarding resources and spending requirements.

2.    Approved the Council Tax base for Bury Council for 2024/ 25 of 57,409 Band D equivalent dwellings, this is the basis on which the Council Tax funding has been calculated.

3.    Approved the net revenue budget of £209.608m for 2024/2025.

4.    Approved the Council tax requirement of £110.198m and the increase in Council Tax in 2024 – 25 of 2.99% in terms of General Council Tax and a further 2% for the Adult Social Care precept for 2024/2025.

5.    Approved the budget assumptions £37.111m in 2024/25.

6.    Approved the use of £15.131m of reserves from the budget smoothing reserve and £4.629m from the collection fund smoothing reserves.

7.    Noted the forecast position on reserves (paragraph 22.2).

8.    Noted the Chief Executive as Director of BMBC Townside Fields Limited will draw down annual dividends from the Company and annual dividends will be reflected in the MTFS.

9.    Approved the recommendations set out in the Treasury Management Strategy (Appendix 2):

o   Approved the Treasury Management Strategy including the associated Prudential Indicators and Annual Investment Strategy.

o   Approved the Treasury Management Policy Statement.

o   Approved the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy Statement.

10.Approved the Capital Strategy and the Programme for 2024/25 - 2026/27 (Appendix 3).

11.Approved the Dedicated Schools Grant budget for 2024/2025 at £228.326m and approve the allocations between the four funding blocks as set out in appendix 4 to this report:

o   The Schools and Academies 2024/25 funding unit values as recommended by Schools Forum and detailed at Annex 1 to appendix 4.

o   Approved the 2024/25 hourly rates for all early year's providers as follows:

§  £5.28 per hour, for 3- and 4-year-olds.

§  £7.52 per hour, for 2-year-olds; and.

§  £10.00 per hour, for under 2s

12.Noted the position on the Dedicated Schools Grant deficit and Project Safety Valve.

13.Agreed to the following amendments to the treatment of military compensation as set out in Appendix 7:

o   Exclude military compensation for Discretionary Council Tax Support calculations - These are short to mid-term additional credits made to those in receipt of Council Tax Support as a top up towards their Council Tax.

o   Exclude military compensation for Discretionary Housing Payments calculations - These are short to mid-term additional payments made to those in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit as a top up towards their rent.


Reasons for the decision:

To progress the Council’s budget setting process to achieve an approved and balanced budget.


Other options considered and rejected:

None, setting the budget is a statutory responsibility.

Supporting documents: