Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023-24 to 2026-27


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change presented a report with the draft Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023-24 to 2026-27, which set out the spending priorities of the Council, key investment objectives and budget areas targeted for necessary savings. The strategy included a financial forecast for 2023-2027 and a detailed draft revenue budget for 2023-24.


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change explained that they were seeing residual cost pressures and loss of income coming through from the pandemic, significant inflationary pressures and also the impact of the cost of living crisis on both pay and prices. This made budget planning for the coming financial year more uncertain and more challenging than usual. The current financial situation was outlined together with the ongoing pressures. She added that the Council would seek to protect the most vulnerable people in the Community. The Council had made £73 million worth of revenue savings since 2010, a considerable amount to find.


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change outlined the planned net budget for the next year and how it was funded. Section 4 of the report explained the particular issues for each service area. She explained that Welsh Government announced the provisional Local Government Settlement on the 14th of December 2022. The final Local Government Settlement would not be announced until the end of February so the draft revenue budget for 2023/24 was shown in Table 6 of the report.

During 2022-23 a number of unavoidable service budget pressures had arisen as detailed in Appendix A to the report. The total of the budget pressures identified for 2023-24 was £10.711 million. Budget reductions had also had to be found in order to balance this budget, and proposals for £3.2 million had been identified and these were outlined in Appendix B to the report. The report also covered plans with regards to the capital programme as part of that settlement. Bridgend had been awarded just over £8 million to support the capital funding in the coming year. The latest capital programme was to be considered by Council and any further changes to that program would be included in the final medium term financial strategy, which will be brought to Cabinet and then to Council in February and March this year. No capital bids had been requested for the coming year, although it was accepted that there were a number of capital pressures that would need financing going forward and these would be updated when the final budget proposals were presented to Cabinet and Council.


The Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change explained that this was a draft budget and these proposals were now subject to consultation with the four scrutiny committees in the coming week. The public consultation was due to end shortly and the findings from both exercises would be considered when drafting the final budget for 2023-2024.


The Cabinet Member for Resources thanked the Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change for the report in very difficult and challenging times. This budget would provide hundreds of services to tens of thousands of residents of the County Borough. They would listen to the scrutiny process and he encouraged members of the public to get involved in the public consultation. They would have to limit service growth and where possible, take money from the back office rather than the front line recognising the consequences for that. They were mandated to deliver a balanced budget but they were conscious of the cost of living crisis and if they could minimise the impact of Council tax, then they would. He again urged residents to take part in the consultation process.


The Cabinet Member for Education echoed what had been said and added that this was not the end budget but a live and working document. They would listen to the recommendations from scrutiny and the consultation.


The Cabinet Member for Communities welcomed the inclusion of an

additional annual allocation of £400,000 per annum to support the decarbonisation agenda. The cuts in the report were not welcomed, they were all difficult and some came with a long term impact however he did welcome the scrutiny process.


The Leader explained that they would want to keep the increase in Council tax as low as possible. This meant they would not be able to finance all the budget growth proposals that had been made and they were going to have to make some savings and cuts.


The Cabinet Member for Future Generations agreed with the comments made. There were four more days for the public to engage in the consultation and Members should encourage their residents to be involved so that they could make decisions that were informed and reflected the values of the Community. 


RESOLVED:             Cabinet agreed to submit for consultation with Overview and Scrutiny Committees, the 2023-24 annual budget and development of the MTFS 2023-24 to 2026- 27, as set out in the report, prior to presenting a final version for approval by Council in

March 2023.

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