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To consider the report of the Financial Services Group Manager followed by discussion in preparation for the Budget Portfolio Holder sessions scheduled as follows:
Considered – Report of the Financial Services Group Manager (FSGM).
The Chairman, Cllr Bill Wright opened the meeting by welcoming all attendees and invited the FSGM to present the overview of the Budget for 2016/17.
Key points raised from the FSGM included:
· Uncertainty around how New Home Bonus and Business Rates will be distributed in the future
· Reduction in core grant, though figures are provisional and may change over time
· £525k reflects income and savings made by Officers
The FSGM responded to Cllr Les Phillimore’s question that the £525k does not include any savings made as a result of Channel Shift, but does include income from benefits overpayments and planning fees.
The FSGM then raised the following points in respect of funding the budget:
· Reduced formula grant - £76k less than what was expected
· New Homes Bonus Grant – is £314k higher than what the council was expecting
There is a £170k gap in the budget and the following options open to the Council are:
Removal of New Homes Bonus (NHB) distributed to Parish Councils - £124k
Cllr. Lee Breckon requested that a list be circulated to all Members detailing how many Parish Councils may be affected by the removal of the New Homes Bonus.
Cllr. Iain Hewson queried how this would affect Parish Councils who may rely on NHB in setting precepts.
The FSGM confirmed that Parish Councils are kept informed of the status of NHB during quarterly meetings. The Council does not guarantee that the Bonus will be given and Parish Councils do not build the NHB into the setting of the precept.
Removal of Council Tax Support Grant to Parishes - £194k
The FSGM provided a quick background to precepts and how Council Tax Support had replaced Council Tax Benefit. Although the Council has no obligation to pass this Grant to Parishes, guidance from Government has suggested that an appropriate amount should be provided.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr. Terry Richardson commented that although no legislation had been passed by central government to ensure that all Councils provided the Grant to Parishes, the Council had always ensured that the Grant given to BDC was distributed among Parishes. It was important that Members were informed of the choices available to them.
The FSGM continued with the presentation:
Council Tax Increase
· Previously freeze grants were available, however it did not equate to how much was raised if Council Tax was increased.
· No freeze grant is expected this year
· The referendum limits are expected to remain at 2%
· The Council would generate £90k if it increased Council Tax by 1.99%, which equates to £2.85 per annum
· Alternatively, those authorities listed as a ‘relevant shire district’ within the DCLG draft report could raise Council Tax (without triggering a referendum) by £5, generating £158k to the budget.
· The FSGM confirmed that the Council could only raise Council Tax by either 1.99% or the increase of £5 – not both together.
· In previous years the Council has done a budget survey, this ... view the full minutes text for item 1.