Agenda item

Joint Report of the Leader, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Financial Services and the Corporate Lead Officer: Finance and Procurement upon the Budget 2023/24, including the Three-Year Capital Programme and Prudential Indicators and Treasury Management


Councillor Bryan Davies, Leader of the Council presented the report noting that the information had been considered by the Cabinet and all Overview and Scrutiny Committees, and that a proposal put forward by Scrutiny not to introduce parking charges in Tregaron and Llandysul was agreed by Cabinet and included in the report.


Councillor Bryan Davies thanked the Officers, noting that Cabinet had set them a challenge to balance the budget without affecting jobs or frontline services as far as possible.  He noted that inflation, cost pressures such as energy, fuel, pay awards and increasing demands of the Social Care budget, and cost of living costs meant a budget shortfall of £22m and that the Welsh Government Settlement increase of 8.1% for 2023/24 meant that £12m savings would need to be made or met from income sources.  A 7.3% increase to Council Tax was proposed by Cabinet, which includes 6% to meet the Council’s increased cost pressures and a non-negotiable increase to the Mid and West Wales Fire Authority levy from their 13% budget, which equates to an additional 1.3% on the Council Tax.


Councillor Gareth Davies, Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement noted that they could not guarantee that there wouldn’t be any job cuts, and that continuing uncertainty regarding pay negotiations could impact Council reserves, and potentially exceed the amount set aside.  He thanked the Overview and Scrutiny Committees for their open and mature discussions, noting that had Members wished to propose alternative solutions, that these would need to be presented during Scrutiny in order that the Section 151 Officer to be able to cost the proposals and give an assurance on the robustness of any such plans.


Eifion Evans, Chief Executive acknowledged the background work carried out by all Officers to identify savings and ensure that jobs and services are protected as much as possible.  He noted that it is recognised by external regulators that Ceredigion County Council continues to deliver high quality services despite the challenges. However it is anticipated that the budget for the following year will be even more challenging.


The Corporate Lead Officer :Finance & Procurement confirmed his opinion on the Budget as Section 151 officer, which included providing an update on the WG Final Settlement and the recent tabling of Pay Offers for general staff for 2023/24.


Councillor Gareth Lloyd, Leader of the Independent Group noted that the Fire Authority Levy had historically been very low, and that there is only one full-time manned Fire Station across Ceredigion and Powys. This has had an impact on staffing, and that they are looking to attract new people by reviewing contracts of employment, which is part of the reason for the significant increase to the Levy.  He thanked everyone for their work, and thanked Cabinet for listening to the recommendations by Scrutiny.  In advance of next year’s budget, he noted that the Council would need to commence work immediately by reviewing income such as parking and rents, as well as savings from agency staff and purchasing equipment as opposed to hiring.


Councillor Elizabeth Evans, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group thanked Officers for involving Group Leaders at an early stage, and for listening to their proposals.  She noted that this was an unprecedented rise in Council Tax, however residents view potential reduction to services with much discontent, together with concern that yet another increase in household costs could push ever more people into hardship.  She noted that morale is also very low amongst Members; however any reduction below 7.3% would lead to further reduction to services, and that she could not oppose the rise when as an Opposition Group, they cannot suggest any alternatives to alleviate the situation.  As an example the difference between 6.0% and 7.3% Council Tax levels worked at to be 37p per week for a Band D property.


Councillor Gareth Lloyd proposed that that the vote in relation to Recommendations 1 – 5 would be a Recorded vote.  This was seconded by Councillor Gareth Davies. A vote was taken and agreed unanimously.


A Recorded vote was taken for recommendations 1 to 5 of the report, as agreed and in accordance with Rule 14.5 of the Council Procedure Rules contained in the Council’s Constitution.

For:  Councillors Bryan Davies, Catrin M S Davies, Clive Davies, Euros Davies, Gareth Davies, Gethin Davies, Ifan Davies, Marc Davies, Meirion Davies, Rhodri Davies, Amanda Edwards, Endaf Edwards, Elaine Evans, Elizabeth Evans, Eryl Evans, Gwyn Wigley Evans, Keith Evans, Rhodri Evans, Wyn Evans, Keith Henson, Paul Hinge, Geraint Hughes, Hugh Hughes, Chris James, Gwyn James, Ceris Jones, Maldwyn Lewis, Gareth Lloyd, Sian Maehrlein, Ann Bowen Morgan, Caryl Roberts, John Roberts, Mark Strong, Wyn Thomas, Matthew Vaux, Alun Williams and Carl Worrall (37).


Against: None (0)


Abstain: None (0)


Councillor Steve Davies did not vote.


Following a recorded vote, it was RESOLVED:


1.      To note that, in the opinion of the Corporate Lead Officer: Finance & Procurement (Section 151 Officer):

• the 2023/24 Budget estimates have been prepared in a robust manner, and

• the proposed level of Earmarked Reserves and General Balances is adequate in respect of the forthcoming financial year.

2. To approve the Revenue Budget Requirement for 2023/24 of £180.101m, as set out in Appendix 1.

3. To approve the detailed Updated 2022/23 Budgets and 2023/24 Budgets, as set out in Appendix 2.

4. To levy a Band D Council Tax of £1,553.60 for 2023/24 for Ceredigion County Council purposes, representing an increase of £105.70 or 7.3%.

5. To note that the 7.3% Band D Council Tax increase represents an increase of 6.0% for core Council Services and a further 1.3% in order to fund an increase in the Mid & West Wales Fire Authority levy for 2023/24.


Following a further vote, it was also RESOLVED:

6. To approve the Capital Strategy, as set out in Appendix 3.

7. To approve the Multi-year Capital Programme, as set out in Appendix 4.

8. To approve the Prudential Indicators, as set out in the Appendix 5.

9. To delegate authority to the CLO – Finance & Procurement to effect movement within the total of the Authorised limit of external borrowing, and the Operational boundary.

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