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Agenda item

Hastings Borough Council Budget and Corporate Plan 2019/20

10 minutes plus 10 minutes Q&A

Minutes:

Councillor Peter Chowney, Leader of Hastings Borough Council and Finance and Property Portfolio Holder presented the Council’s budget and corporate plan priorities for 2019/2020. (see Councillor Chowney presentation). Peter highlighted the Councils ongoing budget shortfalls, including the budgetary deficit of £1.8 million in 2019/20 and £2.5 million in 2020/21.

 

Peter advised a number of national financial policy changes continue to impact on the Council’s budget including,

·         Reduction in the Settlement Funding Assessment of 9% compared to the previous year

·         Revenue support grant reduction to £0 from £1.4 million

·         New homes bonus reduced by 14.4%

·         A 2.99% increase in Council Tax

This coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit, volatility in income and expenditure and increasing pressure on council services such as homelessness and unavoidable costs such as software upgrades, increasing salaries and new waste contract arrangements has helped to create a percent storm!

 

The impacts on our 2019/20 budget include staff redundancies, using £1.8 million of transition reserves to balance the budget and investing in income generation initiatives. (see peters presentation for full details of planned spending reductions, areas of growth and the capital programme)

Peter highlighted a number of growth items in the budget for 2019/20 including:

·         Digital by Design and the continued movement of our processes and transactions on line

·         The purchase of Microsoft licensing for Windows 10

·         Bohemia Town Centre Project staff team to deliver the Area Action Plan

The 2 key themes for the Corporate Plan in 2019/20 were presented 

·         Things we have to do by law or are contractually obliged to do

·         Things we choose to do to enhance quality of life in the town

and Peter highlighted the Councils 6 key corporate programmes for the coming financial year as: 

1.    Waste services including bringing street cleansing back in house and the launch of a new contract for household waste and recycling in partnership with Rother and Wealden Council

2.    Modernisation and digital efficiencies with the development of more online services, an improved online payment service and self service area for benefits claims.

3.    Tackling homelessness and disadvantage including a new homelessness strategy, implementing the rough sleepers initiative, and buying houses to reduce the use of B & B accommodation

4.    Income generation through the development of renewable energy schemes, developing council-owned housing sites and purchasing commercial properties

5.    Tackling climate change in response to the IPCC report last year, identifying what the Council and the town working in partnership can do to deliver a carbon neutral Hastings, including identifying sites for sustainable energy generation and updating local plan policies. .

6.    Physical regeneration activities including the development of the West Marina site for housing and leisure, the White Rock and Town Centre Area Action Plan and a new visitor centre at Hastings Country Park.

Peter summarised by stating the Council faces ongoing challenges, including meeting the £2.5 million budgetary deficit for 2020/21 and confirmed that during the coming year the Council will be  working hard to increase the income we generate, make additional savings and efficiencies, transfer services on line and identify external funding opportunities which support the ambitions of the corporate plan.

The Board sought clarification regarding the total reduction in expenditure between 2018/19 and 2019/20, and Peter advised the reduction amounted to £1million.

 

The Board expressed concern about the proposed deletion of Community Partnership Funding in 2021/22, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss what the likely impact of this would be on the Community and Voluntary Sector and especially advice services operating in the town. Peter confirmed that the Council intends to work together to understand the impact on services and talk to all partners affected about options and alternatives.

Supporting documents:

 


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