Agenda item

Report on the draft Budget for 2022/23


Councillor Bryan Davies, Committee Chair, outlined the meeting procedure and

  welcomed the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, Cabinet

  Members and Officers to the meeting.


The Leader of the Council, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, presented the report on the draft budget for 2022/2023 including the three year capital programme, explaining that this is a provisional settlement, and that the final settlement is due on the 1st March, 2022. The total revenue settlement, known as the Aggregate External Finance (AEF) allocated to Ceredigion for 2022/23 is £119.419m.  This compares with 2021/22 allocation of £110.006m (adjusted for transfers) and is an increase of 8.6%. Wales as a whole has seen an average increase of 9.4% with Ceredigion ranked at 19th. The Leader advised Committee Members that since her appointment in 2012, £50 million savings had been made.


Ceredigion’s Settlement reflects a range of less financially favourable re-distributional movements seen in population and Secondary School pupil number indicators. Standard Spending Assessments (SSA) are notional calculations of what each Council needs to spend to provide a standard level of service. The SSA for 2022/23 is £166.372m which is a 7.2% increase from the previous year (2021/22 £155.153m). The most significant service increase being personal social services at 12.2%.


The budget model has been drafted to include the adjustments with regard to the provisional settlement. Any adjustments required that arise in the final settlement will require consideration and appropriate incorporation into the budget.


The detailed assessment work carried out to identify the unavoidable cost pressures faced by Services has been finalised and identified a net total amount of £13.1m, which is summarised in Appendix 1 of the agenda papers. This amount is almost double the previous years and is £3.8m more than the increased sum available in the settlement and this would equate to the need to increase Council Tax by close to 8%, however some savings are available to the budget setting process.


The Rising costs of Care alone totals £7m, including:

-       UK £9.90 Real Living Wage and 1.25% Employers National Insurance – impacts on most if not all Care related Commissioned Services (results in provisional inflation factors of 8.87% for Domiciliary Care / Supported Living, 9.13% for Residential Care and 11.15% for Direct Payments);

-       Residential Homes – Fees setting review currently in progress;

-       Direct Payments;

-       Looked after Children; and;

-       Domiciliary Care.


The Leader also advised the Committee that the provision for pay inflation is a significant factor estimated at £3.4m and that there is no formal agreement yet on the main 2021/22 pay award. After taking into account the potential funding available, a balanced budget is achievable.


A Corporate approach has been taken to dealing with the Covid-19 net costs and losses, as opposed to each service having to incur sums attributable to relevant services. This approach has ensured that financial management of the 2021/22 budgets and business as usual activity remained strong. Total hardship costs and lost income are currently forecast at a gross total of just under £7m with as much as possible being recovered and reclaimed through Welsh Government (WG) grants/funding.


Additional Covid-19 costs and some lost income will continue into the 2022/23 year and beyond. A corporate budget of £750k is therefore required in the Leadership Group budget, as well as utilising the earmarked contingency including Covid-19 Reserve estimated at £1.25m. No grant claims are due next year as the Hardship Fund will close and the Settlement now allows for this. WG have also committed to continue to supply free PPE for Health and Social Care for as long as it is required and to continue to provide funding for Test, Trace & Protect.


Council Tax needs to increase to fund fully the Budget position.  An extra 4.75% of Council Tax raises a gross £2.1m, which equates to a net £1.8m after allowing for the additional budget requirement placed on the Council Tax Reduction scheme. The Council’s income and cost recovery policy means that services are continuing to recover their inflationary costs relevant to chargeable services from service users, although the current issue in the near term is ensuring the recovery of income streams to pre Covid-19 levels.


The Leader explained that as this is a draft budget proposal, based on the Provisional settlement, and subject to any adjustments that may be required once the Final Settlement is known. Any necessary adjustments would be made in accordance with the following:

1.    the value of any specific grants transferred into RSG will be passported through

     to the relevant Service’s budget;

2.    any other specific changes to be directly targeted to the affected Service(s), if 

appropriate; and;

3.    any other change to the RSG will be dealt with by an adjustment to the

Leadership Group Corporate revenue budget.


The Fire Authority Levy is subject to formal confirmation and is anticipated to result in a £104k cost pressure, which will require top slice funding.


The Leader concluded her presentation with a summary of cost pressures across all/most services and re-iterated that this budget report deals with the provisional settlement announcement with a recommendation to Council on the level of Council Tax for 2022/23. Council is due to consider the final budget on the 3rd March 2022 following scrutiny of the budget papers and draft proposals.



The Chairman thanked the Leader of the Council for presenting the information and also thanked Stephen Johnson, Duncan Hall and Justin Davies and their team of officers for their hard work in preparing the reports for the Committee’s consideration.    


The relevant Cabinet Member then presented the cost pressures affecting all/most services (shown in Appendix B of the agenda papers).


Committee Members considered the service budgets for those service areas that are within the Committee’s remit (shown in Appendix C of the report); namely:


·         Pyrth Porth Cymorth Cynnal, Porth Gofal, Porth Cymorth Cynnar

Sian Howys, Donna Pritchard and Elen James were present to answer any questions.  Cabinet Members, Councillors Catherine Hughes and               Alun Williams presented the information relevant to their respective Cabinet portfolios.

·         Policy, Performance and Public Protection

Alun Williams was present to answer any questions. Cabinet Member, Councillor Gareth Lloyd presented the information relevant to his Cabinet portfolio.


Councillors Catherine Hughes and Alun Williams during the presentation took the opportunity of thanking the staff who have kept crucial Services going under extremely challenging circumstances during the past two years.


Councillor Gareth Lloyd also took the opportunity of thanking the staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure Ceredigion was as safe as possible during the past two years.


During discussion, the following points/concerns were raised:

·         In response to a question regarding monies set-aside for the modernisation of the Authority’s Residential Homes, it was confirmed that monies had been  set-aside for Residential Homes upgrade as stated in the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) shown in Appendix A, page 62, of the agenda papers;

·         Following a question regarding the costs of Domiciliary Care, the Committee were advised that Arwyn Morris, Corporate Lead Officer, is currently exploring options for the best model for Domiciliary Care for Ceredigion;

·         A Committee Member reminded all present of the NHS Continuing Healthcare Fund which is available through assessment;

·         There was a lengthy discussion regarding a proposed New Service Investment – Public Protection shown on Appendix C, page 73 of the agenda papers as follows:

There is considerable pressure on the Public Protection Service as a result of the ongoing Covid Pandemic. In particular, there are significant onerous statutory tasks in responding to cases in residential care and school settings in managing infection control, and providing expert advice and instruction to those in charge to manage clusters and incidents. Additional investment comes at a cost, however this may be part of Members' deliberations around the 3 different Council Tax options being looked at by Cabinet. For example, £55k would broadly fund up to x1 additional Senior Environment Health Officer post.

Committee Members recognised this invaluable post and the statutory work that is undertaken by this Service.  Some Members, however, felt that there is a staff shortage across other services within the Authority and could therefore not support this.  Other Committee Members felt that this was an extremely important activity considering the ongoing Covid Pandemic, and were very supportive of this role.

·         Following a question regarding social care staff vacancies advertised at present and whether or not the funding for the posts is already accounted for in this Budget? It was confirmed that the staff vacancies advertised are accounted for in this Budget.


The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Members for presenting the information and thanked the officers for the information.


The relevant Cabinet Member and officer then presented the proposed Fees and Charges as outlined in Enclosure D, pages 1 to 13 inclusive of the agenda Papers.


Members were then given the opportunity to ask questions, which were answered in turn by the relevant Cabinet Member or Officer.


The Chairman thanked the Leader, the Cabinet Members and the Officers for the information received at the meeting, and asked Committee Members to vote in turn if they accept, are against, or abstain from the following recommendations:


  1. To consider the overall Revenue and Capital Budgets proposed.
  2. To consider the estimated cost pressures being faced (£13.173m across all aspects).
  3. To consider the proposed fees & charges and the resulting estimated £155k additional income to assist with the savings required.
  4. To note the proposed £230k travelling savings target for officers & members.
  5. To note the £113k savings balance still required to be found.
  6. To consider the 3 options proposed for council tax levels of 4.75%, 5.0% & 5.25%.
  7. To provide any other appropriate draft budget related feedback to Cabinet.



            Following consideration, Members agreed to recommend that Cabinet:


  1. APPROVE the overall Revenue and Capital Budgets proposed;
  2. APPROVE the estimated cost pressures;
  3. APPROVE the proposed fees and charges as outlined in Enclosure D, appendix 2  of the agenda papers,  (pages 1-13 of 51) subject to consideration of including the following on page 9 of 51 in relation to the fees for Wellbeing Centres:


Wellbeing Centres – Ceredigion Actif Membership Packages, Porth Cymorth Cynnar:


Agree to delegate authority to the Corporate Director and/or the Corporate Lead Officer Porth Cymorth Cynnar, in consultation with the portfolio Cabinet Member for Porth Gofal, Early Intervention, Wellbeing Hubs and Culture, to vary the Fees & Charges for the Wellbeing Centres for 2022/23, to run short term / time limited promotional offers, in order to incentivise more children, young people, individuals and families to participate in regular physical activity and lead healthier lifestyles.


It was agreed that further details in relation to the above would be presented at the 16th March 2022 Committee meeting.


  1. AGREED to note the proposed £230k travelling savings target for officers & Members;
  2. AGREED to note the £113k savings balance still required to be found; and
  3. APPROVE the proposed 4.75% for council tax levels, noting that:


·         Members considered the 3 options proposed for Council Tax levels of 4.75%, 5.0% & 5.25%.

·         4.75% was proposed, seconded and voted upon. An increase of 5.0% was also proposed, seconded and voted upon.

·         Committee members did not wish to consider 5.25%.

·         The Committee voted on the improvement first, which was an increase of 5% in Council Tax with the additional funding making provision for an additional Senior Environment Health Officer post, £55k would broadly fund, as considered and noted above on page 4 and 5 of these minutes.

·         7 Committee Members voted Against this proposal, with 5 voting For.

·         The Committee then voted on the initial proposal of a Council Tax increase of 4.75%.

·         The majority of Committee Members voted in favour of a 4.75% for Council Tax levels with 7 Committee Members voting For, and 5 Abstaining from the vote.

·         The Committee would therefore be recommending an increase of 4.75% in Council Tax for 2022-2023.


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