Reporting Person – Brendan Arnold
Councillor Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Finance, introduced the report which provided an updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the period 2023/24 to 2025/26. Following the Budget report to Council on 23 February 2023, Councillor Roberts explained that the report provided an update on initiatives which the Council had agreed to commit to in order to pursue financial resilience and to constrain expenditure. The report set out a timetable with clear milestones for a further update of the MTFS in July 2023. The Executive noted that the report included a recommendation that the Council’s future loans to Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Limited (TCMK) were supplied without margin in order to relieve the financial burden on the company. Regarding flexible use of capital receipts, the Executive was asked to recommend to Council that the flexible use of capital receipts be approved to fund transformational activities, an approach afforded by Government.
Following the recent review undertaken by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) rapid review team, the Executive was informed that the review body had submitted its report to Government. The Leader advised that no timeline had been given for the Government’s response. Regarding the Council’s Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) issues, the Portfolio Holder reported that work was in progress around the technical issues in order to inform future discussions with Government.
Discussion ensued on the Fit for the Future (FFtF) programme and it was explained that the budget for 2023/24 and the MTFS forecasts for 2024/25 and 2025/26 incorporated savings identified through the FFtF 1 and 2 exercises. The FFtF 3 exercise would identify minimum viable provision of services and no budget reductions had yet been made to reflect FFtF 3. It was noted that Officers had started the difficult work on FFtF 3 and updates would be provided in future reports. It was acknowledged that the Council would face difficult decisions ahead.
That (i) the approach set out in the report for commencement of the process to balance budget year 2024/25 be noted; and
RECOMMENDED to COUNCIL
That (ii) the latest iteration of the Medium Term Financial Strategy be approved;
(iii) approval of the proposed Flexible Use of Capital Receipts in 2023/24 and submission of a plan to DLUHC be delegated to the Strategic Director – Corporate Resources, in consultation with the Finance Portfolio Holder;
(iv) the Parent Company Guarantee (PCG) be extended by delegation to the Section 151 Officer, in consultation with the Finance Portfolio Holder, for the provision of Gas to Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Ltd (TCMK); and
(v) from 1 April 2023 loans advanced to Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Ltd. (TCMK) to be at the relevant PWLB interest rate with no margin be approved.
Reason: The decision is sought to ensure open and transparent governance in the financial affairs of the Council in balancing the 2024/25 Budget and the achievement of attaining financial resilience and to comply with the process for Flexible Use of Capital Receipts as determined by Government. In addition, to enable Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Limited to acquire energy for onward sale and moderate the cost burden sustained by Thameswey Central Milton Keynes Limited in its business operations.