Considered – The joint report of the Chief Executive and the Corporate Director - Strategic Resources setting out the financial issues and risks for the new North Yorkshire Council and asking the Executive to make recommendations to the County Council regarding the Revenue Budget for 2023/24, the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2024/25 to 2025/26, Council Tax for 2023/24, the Capital Five Year Spending Plan, and an updated Treasury Management Strategy for the financial year 2023/24.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd introduced the report and thanked Gary Fielding and his team for their work on the budget, and for the production of the detailed report. The circumstances in which the Budget had been prepared, with the fluctuations in the financial markets, rising inflation and fetching eight budgets into one, had made this a difficult task.
Revenue Budget for 2023/24, the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2024/25 to 2025/26, & Council Tax for 2023/24
Gary Fielding, Corporate Director for Strategic Resources introduced the report, beginning by thanking those involved in the preparation of the documents for their hard work and collaboration to get to the current position, in particular the Section 151 officers from the district and borough councils.
With bringing eight councils into one, there will be always be issues that arise, but it was felt that the new unitary authority is in a good position to confront these. He commented that there had never been a situation as financially challenging as the current one, even taking into account the events of the last 10 years, with austerity and having to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year was the largest single deficit for the County Council of circa £11m, but with North Yorkshire Council set to take on a projected £30m in year deficit next year as the unitary council, it remained a massive financial challenge. The £30m deficit is broken down to £18m worth of structural deficits inherited from the eight predecessor councils (made up of £11m from the county council and £7m from the district and borough councils) and a projected £12m shortfall due to inflation. It was noted that these inflationary pressures are likely to continue as are the pressures that are currently on council services.
Gary continued by detailing the £53m in extra cost pressures to be faced next year by North Yorkshire Council compared to this time last year. Examples of this include a rise in energy costs, from £6m spent in 2021/22 amongst the eight councils, increasing to an expected spend of £15.5m in 2022/23 and an estimated £31m in 2023/24. This substantial increase in energy will affect all services, but in particular Leisure services. In social care, despite an extra £18m of Government funding for next year, spending is forecast to increase by £33m, with £15m of that having to be found from core budgets. Another area of extra pressure is the provision of home to school transport, jumping from £30m in 2022/23 to increase by an extra £5.6 million for 2023/24. ... view the full minutes text for item 162