Draft Budget 2024/25 and 2025/26
Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
to set out the Council’s budget
proposals for 2024/25 and 2025/26. It also provides a general
update on the Council’s overall financial position, including
an overview of the current economic outlook.
Cabinet NOTED the following comments made by Rajas Falker, as a local resident, who had requested to speak at the meeting on the report. In addressing Cabinet, Mrs Falker advised she was attending the meeting in order to express concerns about the budget saving proposal identified for 2025-26 relating to the potential closure of the New Millennium Day Centre, given the impact it was felt this would have on service users and carers using the Centre. In outlining the detrimental impact it was felt the proposal would have on the health and wellbeing of existing service users and their carers, the opportunity was also taken to advise members of the much valued level of care and social interaction being provided for vulnerable adults through the Centre which it was felt had enabled them to thrive and flourish in a safe and supportive environment. Referring to the closure of other surrounding day care centres, Mrs Falker felt it was also important to recognise the importance locally of the service being provided by the New Millennium Day Centre. Whilst aware of the financial pressures faced by the Council, Mrs Falker ended by urging members to reconsider the saving proposal and to keep the New Millennium Day Centre open to ensure those vulnerable adults and their carers who relied on the service being provided were not adversely impacted and could continue to benefit from the support available through the Centre.
In response, Councillor Nerva (as Cabinet Member for Public Health & Adult Social Care) whilst recognising the concerns highlighted felt it important to begin by outlining the challenging context in which the budget proposals presented for consideration had needed to be developed. This had included the impact arising from austerity and the cumulative funding cuts which had been imposed on local authorities by the current Conservative Government along with their failure to deliver reform of the social care system. These challenges had been compounded, particularly in relation to adult social care providers across all sectors, by the wider economic and inflationary cost pressures currently being experienced alongside an increase in demand for services. Faced with the pressures identified the Council had needed to consider ways in which Adult Social Care services could continue to be delivered as effectively and sustainably as possible working in partnership across a range of sectors whilst also seeking to support and maximise, as part of a wider transformation process, the independence of service users.
In terms of the specific proposal identified, Mrs Falker and Cabinet were assured that the decision due to be taken at this stage was to commence a wider community and service user consultation and engagement process on the budget proposals identified. As part of the consultation process outlined, Councillor Nerva and Councillor Tatler (as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources and Reform) confirmed that this would include users of the New Millennium Day Centre and would involve a full assessment of options and alternative provision prior to any final decision being made on whether to proceed with the proposal. In concluding, Councillor Nerva again assured local residents and care users of the efforts that would be made to genuinely engage and seek views on the budget proposals without any form of predetermination but felt it important to stress the difficult nature of decisions needing to be considered and that would need to be taken by the Council in seeking to balance the budget and ensure the sustainability of services which protected and supported the most vulnerable in the borough.
Having noted the comments received, Cabinet RESOLVED:
(1) To note the overall financial position, as detailed within the report.
(2) To agree to consult on the new budget proposals, as set out in Appendices A and B of the report.
(3) To agree to consult on a Council Tax increase of 4.99% (consisting of a 2.99% general increase plus 2% for the Adult Social Care Precept) in 2024/25.
(4) To endorse the approach to the statutory process of consultation, scrutiny and equalities between November 2023 and February 2024, as set out in section eleven of the report.
(5) To endorse the changes to the technical budget assumptions underpinning the budget, as set out in section seven of the report.
(6) To note the position with regard to the funding for Schools and the Dedicated Schools Grant, as set out in section twelve of the report.
(7) To note the lack of certainty over the level of the rent increase for the Housing Revenue Account in 2024/25 since the government had yet to publish the new regulations. In the absence of guidance, the draft budget had assumed an increase of CPI+1% (7.7%), as set out in section thirteen of the report.
(8) To note the position with regard to the Capital programme, as set out in section fourteen of the report
Eligible for call-in: Yes
Deadline for submission of call-in: 6pm on Thursday 23 November 23
Reason Key: Affects more than 2 wards;
Wards Affected: (All Wards);
Contact: Minesh Patel, Corporate Director Finance and Resources Email: email@example.com Tel: 020 8937 4043.
Report author: Ravinder Jassar
Publication date: 17/11/2023
Date of decision: 16/11/2023
Decided at meeting: 16/11/2023 - Cabinet
Effective from: 24/11/2023