Slough Borough Council’s cabinet is set to discuss its proposed budget for 2022/23 at their meeting on 9 March.
The key points in this are:
- the seriousness of the council’s financial position cannot be understated. It faces a financial deficit of £223m up to the end of the current financial year and a further estimated £84m for 2022/23 – a total of deficit of £307m.
- the council therefore requires extraordinary support from central government by way of a capitalisation direction for the £307m. This means the council will have to borrow or sell assets to meet the deficit and enable it to provide key services. The council will have to pay this back over the next 20 years.
- the current estimates for 2022/23 show that the budget requirement is 78 per cent greater than the normal sources of funding. It is only with confirmation of significant financial support for the council from the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing (DLUCH) the budget can be agreed
- the council will have to identify and deliver up to £600m of asset disposals
- the budget papers propose a series of savings for the coming year including the deletion of some vacant posts within the council, changes to internal structures and an increase in some income, fees and charges; with the total savings proposed being more than £20m
- to deliver the council’s policy priorities and a balanced budget in each future year up to 2028/29, further significant savings in the order of £20m will be required per year in addition to further capitalisation directions
- the council tax is a 2.99 percent increase and is made up of 1.99 percent increase in base council tax rate and a one percent increase ringfenced for adult social care, known as the social care precept.
The 2.99 percent increase raises the Band D council tax yearly amount to £1,534.86 for the financial year 2022/23 which is an increase of £44.56 on the current amount.
Together with the Police and Fire precepts, but not including parishes, the total Band D proposal is £1,850.09. It will be more for residents who live in Parish Council areas, depending on the increase in their parish council tax.
These and many other issues are part of the council’s comprehensive budget reports which will be considered by Cabinet on 9 March before being proposed to Full Council on 10 March.
They will also be discussed by the Scrutiny Committee at their meeting on 8 March.
Councillor Rob Anderson, lead member for financial oversight, council assets and performance, said: “The council fully acknowledges the position it finds itself in as a consequence of its previous decisions, culture and approach and is determined to address this very serious situation.
“It is tackling the historic issues it is facing by focusing on producing its accounts, preparing proper budgets, reviewing its financial processes in all their aspects, preparing for the sale of a large element of its assets and addressing staffing shortages among many other matters.
“Taken as a whole the budget papers put forward a comprehensive, detailed and robust budget proposal for the council for the coming financial year 2022/23.”
He added: “There has been a huge effort by new staff to put this budget together. I’m confident residents can now see we will setting more realistic targets for dealing with the financial mistakes which have been made by the council in the past by putting our house in order, prioritising services which mean the most to local people and moving forward with a robust, transparent and, most importantly, achievable budget.
“For residents, the budget not only proposes a lower than inflation council tax increase but also lays out all the ways we will be helping residents who are financially struggling; including through our council tax support scheme which is one of the best in the county.”
The council’s expenditure in 2022/23 will be around £67m for children’s and adults’ services with another £39m spent on universal services such as waste management, road maintenance, leisure and library services, the council's carbon management and climate change work as well as administration costs for the council.
The capital programme, which is spent on projects to improve and maintain the borough’s infrastructure, for 2021/22 to 2026/27 is £219m.
£202m of the programme will be funded from grants and other sources leaving only £17m to be a cost to the council to be met from borrowing.
The rest will be funded by Housing Revenue Account, external grants and contributions.
It includes £29m of funding for new highways schemes, a £20.7m loan to enable the recladding of Nova House and £105m on the council’s housing stock.
£11m is being spent in children’s services including the schools’ modernisation programme and the expansion of the special schools’ provision, mostly from grants.
It also includes £6m for improvements in IT.
The full budget papers can be found here: Agenda for Cabinet on Wednesday, 9th March, 2022, 6.30 pm (slough.gov.uk)
The extraordinary Cabinet meeting will be held on Wednesday 9 March starting at 6.30pm in the Council Chamber, Observatory House. It will be live streamed.
The Full Council meeting will be held on Thursday 10 March starting at 7pm in the Council Chamber, Observatory House. It will be live streamed.
The council tax amount does not include the precepts for the Police and Crime Commissioner, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and Britwell, Wexham Court and Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Councils which are also increasing. These precept amounts are collected as part of the council tax