Issue - meetings

Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) Update

Meeting: 11/12/2023 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 4)

4 Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) Update OSC23-064 pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Reporting Person: Eugene Walker

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Eugene Walker, Interim Finance Director & Section 151 Officer, introduced the item.

Medium Term Financial Strategy

Officers were benchmarking the Council’s expenditures against other Councils with the support of Local Partnerships.  Through benchmarking it had been revealed that the Council spent above average on the provision of sport and recreation.

Options analysis and the deliverability of savings were being worked on for the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).  The work was being informed by the Equality Impact Assessments, financial modelling and the likelihood of delivering each saving.

Eugene Walker reiterated that the Council lacked any reserves following the issuing of the Section 114 notice.

The Government had not amended its cap on Council Tax increases and therefore stood at three percent for district councils.  The Section 151 Officer noted that other Councils in intervention had seen increases in excess of the cap.  Woking Borough Council collected Council Tax on behalf of not just itself but also the County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner.  Officers emphasised that there was no proposal as yet on whether Council Tax would be altered.

The Capital Programme would be reported on at February Council and was intended to focus on core Council spending including the Decent Homes standard which typically formed the biggest single element of a District Council’s Capital Homes.

It was the opinion of the Section 151 Officer that so long as all proposed savings were able to be taken by the Council, if the Council could not set a balanced budget in February 2024, it would not automatically require the issuing of a second Section 114 notice.

Eugene Walker explained that the ordinary mechanism employed by Government for Council’s that have been issued Section 114 notices was a letter of comfort from the Secretary of State which was linked to a capitalisation directive.  However, discussions were ongoing with Government on what mechanism would be sufficient for Woking Borough Council.

Citizens Advice Woking

Lorraine Buchanan, Laurence Oates, and Jakki Mimms, representatives of Citizens Advice Woking (CAW), provided a presentation on the organisation’s work in the Borough.

CAW did not charge for their services and informed that Committee that the national body did not permit its franchises to charge.

Citizens Advice had been applying for grants from other organisations but there was concern that the loss of Council funding could not be wholly replaced.

Citizens Advice advised that Council Officers routinely signposted residents to the organisation or engaged directly for its expertise.

In addition to the core funding received from the Council through the Service Level Agreement CAW also received financial support for its work with refugees, paid by the Council from government funding for resettlement programmes.

Lorraine Buchanan noted that the number of people seeking support from CAW had increased steadily over the previous several years.

Citizens Advice noted that the core funding from the Council had reduced by five percent in the previous year and had been due to be reduced by the same again in each of the next two  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4