Pursuant to Minute C234/Dec/22, the Leader introduced the report of the Chief Officers Executive (previously circulated) proposing a Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for 2023/24 to 2026/27 (also previously circulated) including setting a budget and council tax increase for 2023/24, to Council on Thursday 16 February 2023, for approval.
The submitted report stated that the current economic climate presented significant challenges to the Council’s budgets; rising inflation, interest rates and energy costs and post-Covid demand in social care were putting significant pressures on the Council’s finances; and that unless further government funding was forthcoming the Council would need to undertake a fundamental review of its services over the course of 2023 to decide what and how services would be delivered in the coming years.
It was reported that the Local Government Finance Settlement was better than expected with additional funding for Social Care and as a result the Council could set a legal budget in 2023/24; continue to provide the core offer level of services to the residents of Darlington; and could deliver a balanced position until 2025/26 utilising reserves as per the Council Strategy. There was a substantial annual budget deficit that was not sustainable and would need to be addressed, and unless further funding was forthcoming, the Council would need to fundamentally review its services and both reduce expenditure and increase income to ensure a stable position moving forward.
Details of the projected expenditure and income, budget pressures and savings, schedule of fees and charges, assumptions used to prepare estimates, projected Revenue Outturn 2022/23, proposed Capital Programme and the minutes of the Economy and Resources Scrutiny Committee, were also appended to the submitted report.
RESOLVED – (a) That the comments and responses received to the consultation, as detailed in the submitted report, be noted.
(b) That it be recommended to the special meeting of Council scheduled to be held on Thursday 16 February 2023, that the Revenue Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) and the Capital Programme, as set out in Appendices 6 and 7 respectively of the submitted report, be approved, including:-
(i) a Council Tax increase of 2.99 per cent plus a two per cent Adult Social Care Precept to fund social care for 2023/24; and
(ii) the Schedule of Charges, as set out in Appendix 3, of the submitted report.
REASONS - (a) The Council must set a budget for the next financial year.
(b) To enable the Council to continue to plan services and finances over the medium term.
(c) To ensure decisions can be made in a timely manner.
(d) To ensure investment in the Council’s assets is maintained.
(e) To take account of the views of residents and Members when considering MTFP proposals.