Agenda item

Capital Programme 2021-24 and Revenue Budget 2021-22


1) The Leader introduced the report and advised that the draft budget proposals had been published on 5 January, had been presented at Cabinet Committees and feedback had been received. Thanks were given to the portfolio holders for their input in the process.


2) Mr Oakford said the draft budget proposals had been through process of being presented at Cabinet Committees and Scrutiny Committee. Finance officers have gone through questions and points raised by Members at those meetings. There was a requirement to consider those points and move forward to approve the budget proposals which were to be agreed at Full Council on 10 February.


3) Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee


In response to comments and questions raised, it was noted:


·       Directorates were to apply for funding from a central budget where demography related need could be evidenced and this contingency budget had been set aside specifically for demography related costs.


·       Mrs Chandler said that a review of Open Access was to take place later in 2022 and would be subject to consultation. There were a range of savings in the budget.


·       Mrs Prendergast said school transport savings had not been possible. There was work underway to look at efficient ways of transporting children such as standard pick-up points, charging for post-16 and exploring options for the Kent 16+pass.


4) Growth, Economic Development and Communities Cabinet Committee


In response to comments and questions raised, it was noted:


·       The Strategic Reset Project was looking at how KCC was to move forward to future-proof and offer services in a more digital way.


·       A request for the reserves information to be set out in the final budget book. That has now been finalised and will be published with the budget before full council.


·       An extra £600,000 had been allocated to address some immediate issues with regard to the Country Parks and Public Rights of Way but additional funding would be welcomed to deal with the backlog.


·       During the pandemic, the cost of building materials and labour had gone up. The extraction of 106 agreements from developers was likely to become more difficult- it was planned to ‘beef up’ the team within existing resources. It was not proposed to seek additional resource.


5) Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee


In response to comments and questions raised, it was noted:


·       The budget situation was extremely challenging, coming out of a 2 year pandemic where some of the new costs are staying as ‘the norm’. There had been a huge increase in demand and complexity, which had impacted on the draft budget.


·       Further clarity was needed from central government as there would need to be a balance between environmental measures and housing developments.


·       Kent Highways were underfunded but the condition of Kent’s Highway network was better than ever within Mr Brazier’s memory due to the work of senior officers and Members. Climate change and the associated weather conditions had caused stress on the drainage system in Highways.


·       The Kent Travel Saver had been provided to the people of Kent for close to 15 years and had been hugely successful and of enormous value to families who wanted to send their children to a selective schools. Prices had to increase over the years and that was likely to need to happen again. 


6) Adult Social Care Cabinet Committee


In response to comments and questions raised, it was noted:


·       The aim of the fundamental redesign, Making A Difference Every Day was managing the situation with demand by doing things differently. Building community resilience, making better use of data and technological as well as working practice innovation were all important in delivering efficiencies but also improving user experience.


·       The Kent Homeless Connect was due to finish in September 2022 and work was being undertaken to understand the impact. Options were to be considered around transitional funding and ways of mitigating impacts were being explored. Discussions with district councils had been constructive and it was hoped that solutions could be found working together.


7) Policy and Resources Cabinet Committee


In response to comments and questions raised, it was noted:


·       Mr Oakford said that KCC had good financial management and was building financial resilience. Therefore, KCC was not under immediate threat of having to issue a Section 114 notice.


·       Local authority funding had been reduced through the period of austerity. It was noted that the last two years had not been ‘normal’ and central government had provided financial support to local authorities during this period. Central government had also provided support for businesses to keep people employed in the county.


·       Data showed KCC’s relative position to other councils with regard to debt reserves ratio as in the top of the bottom quartile. KCC had around £1 billion of debt, £100 million was to be paid each year to re-finance the debt. Around £400 million had been borrowed via a government Highways scheme and was to be paid back by government. Subsequently, the rules were changed and debt became KCC’s responsibility and this had a significant impact on KCC’s debt position. By the end of the year, the high needs deficit was to be around £100 million underwritten by government but if that were to change, KCC would be in a difficult financial position but this would apply to every authority across the country.


8) Health Reform and Public Health Cabinet Committee


·       Mrs Bell said there was a national shortage of health visitors and this had been ongoing since before the pandemic. This was difficult for KCC to influence as they were recruited from the NHS workforce. The Key Performance Indicators showed as green and the service continued to show that contacts were happening. The service was performing well.


·       A cut to the Public Health grant was not anticipated. One of the assumptions was that there would be an inflationary increase to £71m. It was noted that demand had increased in the same way as demand had increased for other services provided by KCC.


·       The Contain Outbreak Management Fund was a contingency fund and funds could be rolled over to the next financial year.


9) Scrutiny Committee


·       The Leader, Deputy Leader and other Cabinet Members attended.


·       There was an expected £20m overspend which looked like it would need to be funded from reserves. The underspends from previous years had been put into reserves.


·       New review and monitoring meetings were to take place quarterly to look at performance in great detail and management information would be made available earlier.


·       Reserves would not be used for discretionary services.


·       KCC would be working to drive down energy costs. There would be a reduction of costs as buildings not being used would be disposed of and investments made into building being used.


·       The increase in the interest rates was not likely to directly affect KCC but there was a risk to the budget if inflation continued to rise. It was noted that the increase in interest rates could affect the services providers commissioned by KCC. Services commissioned had inflationary rates built into their contracts.


·       In response to a query around whether the use of consultancy was a discretionary spend, it was noted that certain projects could not be moved forward without consultancy if there was no in-house expertise.


10) The Leader thanked Mr Oakford and Cabinet colleagues for their part in discussions with Cabinet Committees. There were significant challenges relating to inflation and increases in demand moving forward. Government funding had been increased but did not reflect the increase in demand.


The changes that were made to the way developer contributions were collected had been unfavourable to KCC.


11) Mr Oakford said there were no formal amendments proposed.


12) RESOLVED to endorse the draft budget to be presented to County Council on 10 February for final decision.

Supporting documents: