The Committee are recommended to note the report and refer their comments on the County Council’s budget for 2022/23 to the County Council’s Executive for consideration.
Gary Fielding, Corporate Director for Strategic Resources gave a presentation on NYCC’s latest Budget & Mid Term Financial Strategy Forecasts, and Council Tax considerations, together with the associated risks and issues, which highlighted:
· The provisional Local Government finance settlement
· The extra funding made available since the last budget alongside new/additional pressures
· The options for increasing the Council Tax base and Adult Social Care Precept Options – it was confirmed that the Council had the option of setting an overall increase of up to 4.49%
· The year on year position based on the Council Tax options and associated cash shortfalls
· The impact of Covid, the demand for services and price pressures
· Market distress/collapse especially in adult social care
· Inflation and pay pressures
· The impact of LGR on workload
· The lack of visibility post March 2023 and possible future austerity
· The impact of future ASC funding reform
· The need to provide a good start for the new Unitary Council
· The next steps in the Budget process.
Gary Fielding also highlighted some specific financial issues affecting the Thirsk & Malton constituency area, which included:
· School projections based on May 2021/22 Start budgets, including the number of schools in deficit and the value of those deficits
· The increase in the number of schools in financial difficulty across the constituency area – it was noted primary schools were particularly affected due to a drop in pupil numbers.
· A 12% rise in HAS contacts and a 13% rise in HAS referrals
· A year on year decrease of 6% in reablement
· A 42% increase in Living Well referrals overall between April and November 2021
· The nature of the care market and the cost of care across the constituency area – it was noted that 66% of all placements were above the Authority’s rate, and that there was insufficient choice and capacity
· The ongoing/planned highways and transport schemes across the constituency area – maps were provided showing the coverage of the free wifi available in Malton and Thirsk
In response to Members’ questions, Gary Fielding confirmed:
· The Authority negotiated a county-wide contract for the provision of energy to schools – Members noted the impact of the rising costs of energy for schools;
· The savings to the cost of ASC as a result of the number of informal carers across the UK – it was agreed there was a need for a more long-term fundamental report of the care sector;
· Work was ongoing to understand the assets and liabilities that would arise out of the formation of the new Unitary Council;
· Each District Council currently had its own Council Tax support scheme and work was ongoing to bring them all together as part of the Council Tax harmonisation work stream;
County Councillor Gareth Dadd noted that previous concerns about the potential for a drop in payments of Council Tax, as a result of the pandemic, had not proved correct. He also suggested the most important budget consideration this year was how much to the increase Council Tax by in order to reduce the financial challenges ahead, balanced against residents propensity to pay.
County Councillor Carl Les confirmed a care sector recruitment campaign had been launched to help address some of the ongoing concerns around adult social care.
The Chair thanked Gary Fielding for his informative presentation and it was
Resolved – That the presentation and update be noted.