Agenda item

Three Year Medium Term Financial Strategy 2013 - 2016 Budget Report

To consider the Leader’s Budget Report


(Items 13 &14 of the agenda were considered together, as one item).


The Cheshire East Council Budget Report for 2013/2016 had been produced following engagement on the Business Planning Process during January and February 2013. The Budget Report provides financial background to the Medium Term Financial Strategy Report as well as setting out further details of the approach to funding the Three Year Council Plan. The Budget Report set out, in detail, the spending plans and income targets for the financial year starting 1st April 2013, as well as financial estimates for the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years.


The 2013/2016 Budget Report had been reported to Cabinet on 4th February 2013 and Cabinet had recommended the report to Council for approval. The Budget Report to Council had been updated to reflect the final Local Government Finance Report for 2013/2014. This had been approved by Members of Parliament following a debate in the House of Commons on 13th February 2013. It was noted, that the impact of the final Settlement was minor and did not impact on any service proposals.


The Leader of the Council also presented his budget report under this item and proposed the recommendations set out in report under items 13 &14 of the agenda.


  • The Leader indicated that he and his Cabinet had set out the framework of a new 3 Year Council Plan, which gave a clear strategic direction.  This showed the purpose of the Council, the main outcomes they wanted (to ensure good quality of life for local people in Cheshire East) and the priorities for action to achieve these. 


  • It was recognised that, if ambitions to make Cheshire East a better place to live and work were to be realised, a new medium term financial strategy was needed, that would make the best use of the limited resources and would provide tangible value for money for local people in these difficult times.


  • He and his Cabinet also set out the principles that would drive the thinking in preparing the Council’s Budget and would guide the difficult decisions that need to be made over where to find savings and to cut costs, whilst also investing in necessary improvements in vital services.




The following principles would underpin budget decisions:

·      We will be policy-led and stick to our decisions

·      We will make decisions based on evidence of need and of what works, with due regard to our equality duty

·      We are planning for at least 3 years

·      We must be a more productive and affordable organisation

·      We will stop doing some things to focus on those that matter most to local people

·      We will invest in innovative new ways of providing services

·      We will ensure that those who provide services, whether in-house or externally, give real value for money

·      We will promote self reliance and capacity in local communities to reduce demand on public services

·      We will focus our limited resources on prevention and early intervention

·      We will invest in infrastructure to promote local economic growth and access to job opportunities



·        As well as ensuring that our main priorities for improvement are properly resourced, he wanted to create a Council that was financially stable. A prudent approach had been taken in a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty in local government, and of growing demand for some local services, such as care for those who are elderly and vulnerable.


·        This sound financial management and wise stewardship of public money was what this Council is about under his leadership.  Hard pressed, hard working local people and families could be confident that the Council were on their side and that they could rely on the Council in these uncertain times.


·        Over the past few months, the intensive and wide-ranging work he and his Cabinet had done meant that the Council could confidently make decisions now on the best use of the Council’s resources.  The Leader’s recommendations to Council for a balanced budget over the next 3 years would protect and enhance our essential frontline services, retain sufficient skilled staff to get the job done well and give local people even better value for money as costs were cut.  This approach was also the best way to make the Council’s contribution to reducing the burden of public debt and to create greater prosperity for hard working local people.


The recommendations were seconded by the Finance Portfolio Holder, Cllr P Raynes. Following this, nominated spokespersons for each political group were invited to speak for an extended speaking period.


Before this matter was opened to general debate the Mayor informed Members that the Corporate Scrutiny Committee had considered the budget, at its meeting on 21 February 2013 and the minutes of the meeting had been circulated around the Chamber for information.




Leaders Report


Council: -


1.   Noted the ongoing Budget Engagement exercise undertaken by the   Council, as set out in the attached Appendix 4 of the report.


2.      Noted the comments of the Council’s Chief Finance Officer regarding the robustness of estimates and level of reserves held by the Council based on the budget proposals.


3.   Approved the Leader’s 2013/2016 Budget Report, which presented the financial implications of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, and the detailed changes needed to implement it, as set out in the report.


4.   Approved the 3 Year Capital Programme for 2013/2014 to 2015/2016 as set out in the attached Appendix 3 of the report.


5.  Approved a Band D Council tax of £1,216.34 (no change from    2012/2013).


6.   Approved the recommended Reserves Strategy;


7.      Noted the 2013/2014 non ring-fenced Specific Grants, and that any amendments to particular grants, in the light of further information received from government Departments or other funding bodies, will be reported to Council;


8.      Agreed the 2013/2014 Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) of £182.4 million and the associated policy proposals;


9.   Authorised the Children’s and Family Services Portfolio Holder to agree any necessary amendment to the DSG position in the light of further information received from DfE, pupil number changes, further academy transfers and the actual balance brought forward from 2012/2013;


10.    Noted the receipt by the Council of the transferred and ring-fenced grant for Public Health functions, and acknowledged the positive benefits for local people from the Council acquiring these new functions and responsibilities from 1 April 2013;


11.   Approved the recommended Prudential Indicators for Capital Financing; and


12           Noted the risk assessment detailed in the Chief Finance Officer’s report.


Budget Report


1.    Council noted the comments of the Deputy Section 151 Officer, regarding the robustness of estimates and level of reserves held by the   Council based on this budget, at Appendix A of the report, comment from Finance  Manager and Deputy Section 151 Officer).


       2.   That the 2013/2016 Budget Report, at Appendix A of the report, be approved,as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy Report.



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