Agenda item

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023-24 to 2026-27 and Draft Budget Consultation Process


Councillor Hywel Williams - Cabinet Member for Resources 


Carys Lord - Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change


The Senior Democratic Services Officer – Scrutiny presented to the Committee the final report of the Budget Research and Evaluation Panel (BREP) attached at Appendix A and the responses from all the Subject Overview & Scrutiny Committees in relation to Cabinet’s draft budget proposals, attached at Appendix B to the report. The Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee was asked to consider the findings of the Budget Research and Evaluation Panel attached at Appendix A and determine

whether the Recommendations should be forwarded to Cabinet along with the consolidated responses from all four Overview and Scrutiny Committees at Appendix B as part of the budget consultation process.


The Chair thanked the Senior Democratic Services Officer – Scrutiny, and Members discussed the following:


  • The use of reserves to “plug the financial gap” due to the severe financial context for one year in anticipation that inflation would tail off towards the end of the year and that the economic picture was improving. Members discussed the need to be financially credible in line with Wales Audit recommendations and the need to keep a balance of 5% net of schools balances to meet any unexpected pressures. Reserves could only be used once but further cuts to public expenditure were expected.  Consideration should be given to the public perception of earmarked reserves and communication with the public.
  • The use of a cash fund to avoid problems during COVID.
  • Slippage in the Capital Programme and if there was an opportunity to delay some of the capital projects and to rent machinery or vehicles to release capital reserves to increase revenue budget and help cover costs this year.   
  • Working with other local authorities to look at best practice and pressures. WLGA summit to look at proposals at neighbouring authorities.
  • Scope to provide alternative budget proposals as a result of more engagement in the process and being aware of the full discretionary services that could be considered for savings. It would be helpful to know what was statutory or discretionary and the amount paid for those services to be able to provide a more valuable contribution in future years.
  • Appetite for risk with regard to predictions around inflation and energy prices and lack of resilience in reserves or the base budget.
  • Ongoing conversations to mitigate the impact of some of the proposals particularly in relation to the RNLI, the Regeneration Fund and enforcement. 
  • The headlines from the budget consultation which was just concluding and revisiting some of the assumptions to see if there was any wriggle room to take on the comments received. 
  • The presentation of an alternative budget and not having access to the information required to make a valuable contribution to the discussion.
  • Only 7% of budget reduction proposals were predicated upon policy changes.
  • The possibility of BREP and COSC being part of the filter process to look at what policies were within scope to be looked at    


Following detailed consideration and discussions with Officers and Cabinet Members, the Committee made the following Recommendations:


  1. That all four Scrutiny Committees’ recommendations be presented, unamended, to Cabinet as COSC’s recommendations.
  2. That there be an additional recommendation from COSC that there be a communication to residents to improve understanding of the purpose of reserves and earmarked reserves held by the Council.  



Supporting documents: