Issue - meetings

Business and Financial Planning 2024/25 to 2026/27

Meeting: 19/02/2024 - Cabinet (Item 4)

4 Business and Financial Planning 2024/25 to 2026/27 pdf icon PDF 358 KB

To approve the following recommendations to Full Council for consideration at its meeting on 6 March 2024: approve the Council’s medium-term plan for the next four years and the budget for the 2024/25 financial year.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet approved the following recommendations to Full Council for consideration at its meeting on 6 March 2024

 

Council Tax 

  1. That the Council Tax for a Band D be agreed at £501.76 for 2024/25 
  1. That subject to the consideration of the previous recommendation, the council tax for the City of Westminster, excluding the Montpelier Square area and Queen’s Park Community Council, for the year ending 31 March 2025, be as specified in the Council Tax Resolution in Appendix 1  
  1. That the Precepts and Special Expenses be as also specified in Appendix 1 for properties in Montpelier Square and the Queen’s Park Community Council 
  1. That the formal resolution for 2024/25 attached at Appendix 1 including the council tax requirement of £68.889m be agreed 
  1. Note the proposed Greater London Authority precept (Band D) of £471.40, an increase of £37.26 in the adjusted Band D precept 
  1. That the Council continues the Westminster Community Contribution scheme to allow residents in the City to voluntarily contribute towards supporting discretionary services that support the three priorities of youth services, helping rough sleepers off the streets and supporting people who are lonely and isolated. 

Revenue Budget 

  1. To note the views of the Scrutiny Budget Task Group set out in Appendix 2 
  1. That the proposed General Fund net budget requirement of £205.545m summarised in Appendix 3 is approved 
  1. That the savings, pressures and investments for 2024/25 to 2026/27 set out in Appendix 4, 5 and 6, are approved 
  1. That the Equality Impact Assessments included in Appendix 7 are noted to inform the consideration of the budget 
  1. Note the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan 2024/25 and 30 Year Housing Investment Plan presented concurrently to Cabinet on 19 February 2024 that recommends the HRA budget and rent levels for 2024/25 

Capital Programme 

  1. Note the Capital Strategy 2024/25 to 2028/29, forecast position for 2023/24 and future years’ forecasts summarised up to 2037/38 report also presented to Cabinet on 19 February 2024 that recommends the Council’s capital programme and financing 

Reserves, Balances and Budget Estimates 

  1. Agree the reserves policy as set out in section 9 
  1. Note the opinion of the Section 151 Officer with regards to the robustness of the budget process, the estimates underpinning the budget and the adequacy of the reserves as set out in Appendix 8 as required by S25 of the Local Government Act 2003

Treasury Management and Investment Framework 

  1. Note the Treasury Management Strategy for 2024/25 including the annual investment strategy, borrowing limits and prudential indicators summarised in this report and set out detail in a concurrent report on this agenda. 
  1. Note the 2024/25 Integrated Investment Framework report also concurrently on this agenda, which sets out the policies and framework for future investment decisions for the Council. 

Fairer Westminster Delivery Plan 

  1. Note the summary of the delivery actions for the Fairer Westminster Delivery Plan 2024/25 provided in Section 4. The full approved version of the 2024/25 Delivery Plan will be published in mid-March. 

 

Reasons for Decision

 

The Council has a statutory requirement to set a balanced  ...  view the full decision text for item 4

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the item and invited Councillor Boothroyd to speak to the report, followed by Gerald Almeroth, Executive Director of Finance and Resources, and Councillor Fisher as Chair of the Budget Scrutiny Task Group.

 

Councillor Boothroyd noted that this is the Council’s budget which provides funding to continue to develop the Fairer Westminster strategy, with investment in the priorities of the people of Westminster, including CCTV, community hubs, boosting carer pay and supporting familiees during the cost of living crisis.

 

Councillor Boothroyd highlighted that the Council has been able to make savings without harming services, as well as increased income through more realistic fees and charges to reflect the cost in providing services, with a council tax increase set in line with that assumed under the government funding settlement.

 

Councillor Boothroyd noted that this budget has had to approve additional spending to an unprecedented extent as a result of the temporary accommodation crisis and thanked the finance team who have managed this.

 

Councillor Boothroyd noted that Westminster does have more capability than most, with the temporary acquisitions programme having some impact but more work needs to be done to alleviate the cost of nightly-booked accommodation and find more cost-effective private sector homes.

 

Gerald Almeroth highlighted the volatility of temporary accommodation costs and that officers have worked hard to come up with a plan to manage this, but that it still poses significant risk going forward.

 

Gerald Almeroth noted that the budget process this year has been robust and can give assurances as reflected in his section 25 statement.

 

Gerald Almeroth noted the medium-term position and that there is still a £48m gap which the Council will be working to close over the coming period.

 

Councillor Fisher highlighted that temporary accommodation is the critical issue for the Council with councils facing unprecedented demand, and that the task group was encouraged to see the council taking action to increase cost-effective supply to protect residents.

 

Councillor Fisher noted that the improvements to scrutiny recommended last year have been followed through, with Cabinet Members attending BTSG meetings and defending their decision making and portfolios, with more detail to be provided next year in presentations.

 

Councillor Fisher noted his thanks to Councillor Boothroyd, Gerald Almeroth and Jake Bacchus.

 

The Chair thanked officers in the finance team and across the council, noting that these are challenging times in which officers have worked to produce a balanced budget.

 

The Chair noted the central challenge of temporary accommodation and in particular the challenges in Westminster with the private rented sector and ability to procure supply, but that there is a plan in place to address those.

 

RESOLVED: Cabinet approved the following recommendations to Full Council for consideration at its meeting on 6 March 2024

 

Council Tax 

  1. That the Council Tax for a Band D be agreed at £501.76 for 2024/25 
  1. That subject to the consideration of the previous recommendation, the council tax for the City of Westminster, excluding the Montpelier Square area and Queen’s Park Community  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4