Agenda item

2024/25 Budget, Medium Term Financial and Treasury Management Strategy - Revenue

To recommend to Council the proposed 2024/25 revenue budget, Medium Term Financial Strategy and the Treasury Management Strategy. 



Opening remark by the Leader

Regarding the Budget and the local settlement, clarification was only received on 24 January in respect of the additional funding received and this will be discussed today along with the amendment to the recommendation.   

The Cabinet member for finance and corporate services introduced the report. It highlighted that the revised budget for 2024/25 was now £210m.  It was confirmed that; the central government settlement was better than expected at £2.5m; the Rural Services Delivery Grant was increased to £945,000 and the Social Care Grant for adults and children was increased to £1.835m.  The additional funds will be used to cancel the planned car parking increase; provide funding towards strategic housing activities; provide funding towards the Leominster heritage action zone; to remove the planned reduction in Library opening hours; to support Economy and Environment directorate by resourcing a funding officer; to provide funding for the community and volunteer sector; to allocate funding to Parish Councils for the lengthsmen scheme; to provide funding towards Herefordshire footpaths; to provide funding to address drainage works across the road network; add money to the financial resilience reserve and the new social care resilience reserve.

It was noted that each directorate has its own pressures and savings plan to deliver the directorate savings of £11.6m.   


The Medium Term Financial Strategy sets out the Council’s budget for 24/25 and the financial plan until 27/28.  Noted there was only a £1.9m funding gap over the medium term financial period.


Cabinet members discussed the report and it was noted to be a positive opportunity to allocate money to be used locally for the right of way footpaths, lengthsmen scheme and drainage.  Also, that the investment in the Children’s directorate will result in improved outcomes for children and families. 


Group leaders gave the views of their groups.  The additional funding announced was welcomed.  Concern was expressed regarding underfunding of public services and when progress will be made with improving the A49 and transport links to the motorway.  It was noted that there should be close monitoring over the use of contractors at the Council and caution taken with MERS.  The cancelation of car parking charges was welcomed.  It was queried what percentage of people fund their own care and what the impact will be due to the asylum seekers moving from the Three Counties Hotel and from the Talbot hotel.  It was asked that high school transport costs for families transporting children from Credenhill to Weobley are addressed.  Clarification was sought as to where funding monies have been allocated in the Budget report regarding targeted support for hard up households. 


In response to the queries it was noted that local government funding is tight and extra monies are welcomed. Regarding the A49 the Cabinet member advised the bypass will come to Cabinet in February. It was confirmed that monitoring of Council spending will be closely monitored with Cabinet portfolio holders conducting a monthly review of all expenditure and the £500 moratorium will continue next year. The request for MERS to be managed sensitively is acknowledged and it is noted that recommendation four from the SMB includes a request that monitoring of performance in respect of MERS is undertaken.  Confirmed 65-70% of people are self-funders for their care and there are others who pay towards their care.  In respect of asylum seekers the Council are required to accommodate 0.1% of the local child population under the National Transfer Scheme which is equivalent to 36 children.  The Home Office accommodate families at the Talbot Hotel in Leominster and includes children but they are not unaccompanied asylum children. Confirmed they will be collectively relocated by the Home Office when the Talbot Hotel closes at the end of February 2024.  The Home Office also commission the Three Counties Hotel for single male adults but occasionally one will come forward who will say they are under the age of 18, the Council then have a duty to accommodate them as unaccompanied asylum seeking children.  The Council have 38 unaccompanied asylum seeking children and 71 unaccompanied seeking children who have now reached the age of 18 and the Council continue to support them as care leavers. Confirmed that the Cabinet member is aware of the school transport issue concerning Credenhill and acknowledged the seriousness of the issue. 


It was unanimously resolved that:


That Cabinet recommend to Council for approval:

a)    the council tax base of 71,999.97 Band D equivalents in 2024/25;


b)    an increase in core council tax for 2024/25 of 2.99%;


c)    an additional precept in respect of adult social care costs of 2% applied to council tax in 2024/25 resulting in a total council tax increase of 4.99%, increasing the band D charge from £1,786.61 to £1,875.76 for Herefordshire Council in 2024/25;


d)    the balanced 2024/25 revenue budget proposal totalling £207.7 million, subject to any amendments approved at the meeting, specifically the net spending limits for each directorate as at appendix C;


e)    delegates to the section 151 officer the power to make necessary changes to the budget arising from any variations in central government funding allocations via general reserves;


f)      amended to:

the allocation of additional funding of £2.5 million announced in the Local Government Settlement in December 2023 to support strategic housing (£1.0 million), to reverse planned parking charge increases (£400k), an allocation of £300k to the Leominster Heritage Action Zone, removal of proposed savings in Community Wellbeing to reduce library hours (£55k), £56k to provide funding officer resource to identify external funding opportunities, £200k of funding to support the community and voluntary sector across Herefordshire and a £500k transfer to the Financial Resilience Reserve.


g)    the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2024/25 to 2027/28 at appendix A be approved;


h)    the Treasury Management Strategy at appendix D be approved; and


i)      the responses to scrutiny committee recommendations to follow in a supplementary paper to be approved.


New recommendation added:

j)      following the announcement by Government on 24 January of additional measures for local authorities, the allocation of £1,835k additional Social Care Grant to a Social Care Resilience Reserve and £945k increase in Rural Services Grant to provide additional funding for the lengthsman scheme (£250k), additional funding for drainage works across the county (£445k) and improvements to Public Rights of Way (£250k).



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