Agenda item


To approve the 2024/25 budget and associated Medium Term Financial Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy.


Council considered a report from the Leader to set the 2024/25 budget. Council noted the following supplements published following the despatch of the agenda:


·         Budget Council meeting procedure 2024 published on 2 February; and

·         Budget amendments 2024/25 published on 8 February.


The Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services introduced the report and moved the budget.


The Leader seconded the report and the budget.


Councillor Terry James, as Group Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group spoke on the budget.


Councillor Ellie Chowns, as Group Leader of The Green Party Group spoke on the budget.


Councillor David Hitchiner, on behalf of the Group Leader of the Independents for Herefordshire Group spoke on the budget.


Councillor Bob Matthews, as Group Leader of the True Independents Group spoke on the budget.


Council debated the budget recommended by the Cabinet.


Amendment – Proposed by Councillor Toni Fagan and seconded by Councillor David Hitchiner


To retain proposed SEN Transport savings (£200,000), but to remove savings in Children’s Directorate budget of £2,303,000 in service areas where no targeted savings have yet been delivered:


Saving Category


Name of proposal






Reduce Children’s High-Cost placements

Current activity to step down higher cost placements and reunite some families




Reduction in Social Worker establishment

Achieving a reduction of 14 social workers posts by 31 March 2025 based on the assumption of reduced demand




Reduce numbers of agency social workers

Convert 20 posts from agency to permanent by end of June 2024 (Q1) to realise 3/4yr effect




The balancing figure to be provided, for one year only, from the funds held in the following earmarked reserves:


·         Care Market Costs: £959,000

·         Financial Resilience Reserve:  £1,344,000

Any savings that actually get delivered during 2024-25 by the Directorate be required to be used to repay these reserves – and that these repayments are reported publicly in the Quarterly Performance Reports produced by the administration during the year.


This amendment is proposed to give Council and the public greater assurance of the setting of a balanced budget for 2024-25. It follows track record and evidence from two consecutive years of significant overspends in the Children’s Directorate (£6m in 2022-23 and (Q2) £13.8m 2023-24). It also is informed by there being no track record and no evidence of delivery during 2023-24 of the Directorate’s £4.5m of agreed savings in Looked After Children care costs and in reduced agency and staff costs – the exact same service areas proposed to deliver immediate, front-loaded savings in 2024-25.


Councillor Fagan proposed the amendment.


Councillor Hitchiner seconded the amendment.


Council debated the amendment.


The Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services, as the mover of the original motion, spoke before the vote on the amendment.


The amendment was put to the recorded vote and was carried by a simple majority.


FOR (26): Councillors Andrews, Bartlett, Bartrum, Boulter, Carwardine, Chowns,, Crockett, Dykes, Engel, Fagan, Foxton, Gennard, Heathfield, Hitchiner, James, O’Driscoll, Oliver, Owens, Peberdy, Dan Powell, Proctor, Simmons, Spencer, Stark, Tillett and Woodall.


Against (23): Councillors Baker, Biggs, Bramer, Cole, Cornthwaite, Dave Davies, Durkin, Gandy, Hamblin, Highfield, Hurcomb, Kenyon, Lester, Mason, Matthews, Ivan Powell, Price, Stoddart, Stone, Swinglehurst, Thomas, Allan Williams and Robert Williams.


Abstentions (1): Phillips.


The 2024/25 budget and associated medium term financial strategy and treasury management strategy, as amended by the above budget amendment motion, was put to the recorded vote and was carried by a simple majority.


FOR (47): Councillors Andrews, Baker, Bartlett, Bartrum, Biggs, Boulter, Bramer, Carwardine, Cole, Cornthwaite, Crockett, Dave Davies, Durkin, Dykes, Engel, Fagan, Foxton, Gandy, Gennard, Hamblin, Highfield, Hitchiner, Hurcomb, James, Kenyon, Lester, Mason, Matthews, O’Driscoll, Oliver, Owens, Peberdy, Phillips, Dan Powell, Ivan Powell, Price, Proctor, Spencer, Stark, Stoddart, Stone, Swinglehurst, Thomas, Tillett, Allan Williams, Robert Williams and Woodall.


Against (0)


Abstentions (3): Chowns, Heathfield and Simmons.




That Council approves:

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 £210.5 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)     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;

i)     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); and

j)     To allocate to Children’s Services £2.303m (£0.959m to Children’s High Cost Placements, £0.338m to Social Worker Establishment, £1.006m to Agency Social Workers) from Care Market Costs Earmarked Reserve (£- 0.959m) and Financial Resilience Earmarked Reserve (£-1.344m) as a one off charge. These reserves are then to be repaid in-year with any of the originally proposed savings in the Children and Young People directorate which do get delivered during 2024-25.




Supporting documents: