Report of Chief Finance Officer
Homira Javadi, Director of Finance and Performance, presented the report which sought agreement from the Council on the General Fund Budget 2023/24 and updated Medium Term Financial Strategy, together with the updated Capital Programme and Treasury Management position. During discussion, the following points were highlighted:
· The use of approximately £229.000 of reserves related to a one-off requirement for the forthcoming elections and included future contributions, which would be drawn down from earmarked reserves with a proposed annual base-budget of £100,000.
· The recommended 100% discretionary council tax premium on second and empty homes, would be subject to a consultation, and any comments received would be reflected in the Council’s final policy.
· The recommended increase in council tax was included and reflected in the Council’s ‘spending power’, which was determined by an increase in council tax of a minimum of 3%. This increase was the minimum uplift for the spending power in all authorities.
· The statement of the Council’s reserves was included at appendix 7 to the report. When determining the level of its reserves the Council had to consider further exposure to income reduction, additional costs/demands. The use of the reserves was more appropriate for one-off costs, with an agreed repayment plan. Any reduction in council tax revenue lowered the budgetary baseline for future years.
· A number of Members felt that the increase in council tax would impact on residents who were already affected by the cost-of-living crisis and felt in should not be increased.
Resolved to support the officer recommendations in the Cabinet report, subject to the following amendment to recommendation 1.3 being considered by the Cabinet:
1.3That the increase in the Council Tax for Lewes District Council of 1% (per annum) resulting in a Band D charge for general expenses of £204.10 (per annum) for 2023/24, be reduced to 0% and that should this be agreed, The Chief Finance Officer identifies other areas of the Budget where the required savings can be made.