Agenda item

Decision:

Cabinet were asked to consider the recommendations of the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group which was formed to scrutinise the Draft Revenue Budget 2021/22 and Capital Programme 2021-2025 that Cabinet approved on 5 January 2021.

 

RESOLVED –

 

Cabinet agreed responses to the Budget Scrutiny 2021 Report and its recommendations, a complete breakdown of which can be found here.

Minutes:

R Bagge, Chairman of the Finance and Resources Select Committee (Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group) attended the meeting to present their findings and recommendations following the intensive budget scrutiny process that had taken place over 4 days in January 2021.  The inquiry had scrutinised the Draft Revenue Budget 2021/22 and Capital Programme 2021-2025 that had been approved by Cabinet on 5 January 2021.

 

From 11-14 January 2021 the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group had held meetings in public questioning each Portfolio Holder on their revenue budget and capital programme proposals with a view to making recommendations to Cabinet for it to consider at its meeting on 16 February 2021 prior to submitting the final budget

to Full Council for approval on 24 February 2021.  The public had been able to submit questions via email or social media channels.

 

The Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group had recognised that this was a unique revenue budget which had been produced for one year, opposed to the usual four-year period and recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a challenging and difficult time for Buckinghamshire.

 

The Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group had recognised the hard work of members and officers in preparing the budget in light of the global pandemic and it also being the Council’s first year of operation.  Members were aware that issues outside of this Council’s control could change key assumptions significantly, particularly if Covid restrictions remained for a prolonged period, or further lockdowns were enforced.

 

It was also recognised that since Cabinet had agreed the draft budget, the nation had entered a third lockdown period and this would have an even greater impact on Council finances particularly in areas such as projected income sources, commercial revenue and council tax receipts.  The Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group’s key findings and recommendations were set out in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

In summary the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group believed that following their recommendations, the budget was lean, robust and deliverable and thanked officers and the Cabinet for their work. The Leader also thanked the committee for the work and subsequent recommendations and thanked all supporting officers.

 

The Leader presented a draft response (attached as an appendix to the Minutes of this meeting)on the budget scrutiny report and its recommendations  and informed Members that with regard to budget scrutiny recommendation 11, he would be asking Cabinet at the next item on the budget to consider increasing the level of capital investment in highways drainage assets as well as providing additional funding to help with gully cleansing, repairs and essential maintenance.

 

Cabinet Members commented on the responses relating to their portfolio, or raised the following points during discussion:

·                     Members of the Inquiry Group were commended for their work and the final budget would be improved due to their work.

·                     Broadband coverage (recommendation 10) – that they supported the ambition to ensure that Buckinghamshire was one of the most connected counties, whilst also recognising the resourcing / infrastructure issues highlighted in the report.

·                     Culture Strategy (end of report, not a specific recommendation) – that Cabinet had noted the suggestion and had included a specific budget of £100k in the final budget proposals to drive the strategy forward and promote culture and tourism in Buckinghamshire.

 

RESOLVED

(1)               That the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group, as well as supporting officer, be thanked for their work and subsequent recommendations

(2)               That Cabinet’s responses to the Budget Scrutiny 2021 report and recommendations, as detailed in the appendix to the Minutes, be noted.

Supporting documents: