Agenda item

2024-25 Budget; Council Tax Precept; and Medium Term Financial Plan 2024-29


The Finance Officer presented a report that sought Members’ approval for the Authority’s budget for 2023-24, the Authority’s precept, as required by law, for 2024-25 and its Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for 2024-29.


The Authority was required to approve its budget and set the council tax precept for the financial year commencing 1st April 2024. The Authority was required to take into account Government funding, precept regulations and organisational demands.  This requirement was supported by the production of a MTFP with the annual budget forming the first year of the MTFP.  The creation and maintenance of the MTFP was fundamental in promoting good financial planning and delivery of value for money. The MTFP was Appendix 1 to the report.


Members had considered the Authority’s financial position at their Planning Day on 12th January 2024 where they had the opportunity to challenge the assumptions and proposals being put forward by officers as part of the draft budget and MTFP. 


The Finance Officer indicated that the report followed a similar format to those that had been presented in previous years. 


The 2024-25 budget proposals were based on the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement as published on 18th December 2023 and the final Settlement announced on 5th February 2024.  The Settlement included the Government’s Funding Assessment and grant allocations for 2024-25.  An increase in council tax precept of 2.99% at Band D was assumed; this would generate additional funding of £1.420k compared to 2023-24, based on the tax bases of Band D equivalent properties.  When all elements of funding were included, such as revenue support grant and business rate income, the overall net revenue budget would increase by £4.735k compared to the previous year, including a 2024-25 Service Grant (including the Funding Guarantee) of £946k.


A Member referred to the Modernisation Programme and asked for clarity that the fire station rebuilds at Ellesmere Port and Warrington would be complete by 2028. In response, the Finance Officer confirmed that a provisional ‘placeholders’ for the fire station rebuilds were included across the years 2026-28. They would be funded through a mix of capital receipts, reserves and further borrowing.


Members made several comments relating to the McCloud Remedy the timescales involved and the risks associated and how these could affect the Service. In response, the Deputy Chief Fire Officer advised that all primary and secondary legislation to implement the McCloud Remedy came into force on 1st October 2023. Services had to complete several key tasks in readiness to deliver the Remedy. The next group of key deliverables needed to be completed between October 2023 and April 2024.


The Finance Officer advised that the Home Office had clarified that any costs incurred by Services in relation to additional pension liabilities and compensation would be fully funded by Central Government.


Members were advised that the pensions issue relating to the McCloud Remedy had been considered at last meeting of the Audit Committee and Local Pension Board – Firefighter Pension Scheme.


Members welcomed the informative report and thanked officers for their time in preparing such a detailed accessible report.




[1]      the Medium Term Financial Plan, as set out in Appendix 1 of the report be approved;


[2]      the Budget Requirement of £56.479m as set out in Table 1, paragraph 11 of the report be agreed, taking into account the adjustments for inflation, growth, one off items and savings as detailed in Appendix 2 of the report;


[3]      the proposed council tax precept increase of £2.61 at Band D (2.99%) be approved and a Band D council tax precept of £90.09 be set for 2024-25;


[4]      the levels of council tax precept as set out in Table 2 paragraph 30 of the report be agreed;


[5]      the proposed capital programme for 2024-25 set out in Table 2 paragraph 30 of the report together with its associated financing be approved;


[6]      the Capital Strategy set out in Appendix 3 of the report be approved;


[7]      the Reserves Strategy set out in Appendix 4 of the report be approved;


[8]      the Statement of Robustness of Estimates set out in Appendix 5 of the report be noted; and


[9]      the Financial Health Targets as set out in paragraph 35 of the report be adopted.

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