It was moved by Councillor Jackie Kirk, seconded by Councillor Donald Nannestad and
RESOLVED that Council Procedure Rule 17.4 regarding the content and length of speeches be suspended to allow the Leader of the Council and the Leader of the Opposition unlimited time to speak on Minute 56a.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council, proposed the recommendations contained within the report, as detailed on page 18 of the agenda pack, in relation to the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022-2027 and budget.
He reflected on the events of recent years, particularly focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on the Council, combined with a number of measures the Council had to undertake due to the restrictions imposed at different stages throughout the pandemic, all of which had led to significant costs and a drop in many traditional sources of income for the Council. The City Council was very well financially managed and due to its excellent financial stewardship had been able to stabilise the position and rebuild its finances for a sustainable future in line with continuing to support the Council’s vision. Reference was made to the continued uncertainty faced by the labour market and its associated supply issues, which was impacting on many sectors.
Reference was made to the longstanding uncertainty with regards to local government financing, where the Council had achieved £10 million of revenue savings over a period of ten years. It had been hoped that the Levelling Up White Paper would address inequality within Lincoln, however, this had not been included. Similarly, the Council was awaiting detail on the Shared Prosperity Fund. However, the Leader was pleased to highlight the successful projects which had received funding via the Lincoln Town Deal Fund. Councillor Metcalfe took this opportunity, however, to remind Council that there were lots of financial challenges ahead owing to the ongoing uncertainty in funding.
An increase of 1.89% in council tax was proposed, which averaged approximately 7-8p per week. It was highlighted that 14% of the total council tax bill for the City of Lincoln was attributable to the City Council, with the remainder going to Lincolnshire County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Councillor Donald Nannestad, Deputy Leader of the Council, seconded the proposition and reiterated the points made in relation to the reduction in government funding and the ongoing financial challenges faced by the Council, as a result of this reduced funding and also Covid-19.
The Mayor, having received notice of the Leader of the Opposition’s intention to propose a number of amendments, permitted that more than one amendment may be discussed and debated at once to facilitate the proper and efficient conduct of the Council’s business in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 17.6(b). She reported, however, that each amendment would be voted upon separately.
Councillor Thomas Dyer, Leader of the Opposition, proposed the following amendments to the Medium Term Financial Strategy, which were seconded by Councillor Christopher Reid, Deputy Leader of the Opposition:
Amendment 1 - the increasing of Enforcement Fines: ... view the full minutes text for item 56
Purpose of Report
To consider recommending the Medium-Term Financial Strategy for the period 2022-2027 and the budget for 2022/23 to the Council for approval.
To consider recommending the Capital Strategy 2022-2027 to the Council for approval.
That the Council be recommended to approve the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022-2027, and the Capital Strategy 2022-2027, which included the following specific elements:
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Reasons for the Decision
The financial landscape for local government had continued to pose an unprecedented challenge to the Council and was set in the context of significant, inherent, uncertainty with the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on income and expenditure assumptions, and a lack of any form of clarity on future funding settlements from Government. It was a long time since the Council had any medium-term certainty during budget setting, which had made financial planning in this climate extremely challenging.
The Covid-19 pandemic continued to provide budget pressures arising from demand for services, the availability of goods and services, escalating costs and ongoing and permanent reductions in income. With rising inflation; labour shortages; and supply chains issues the level of uncertainty had never been so high.
There was no certainty whether and when each of the planned local government finance reforms would be implemented, which could alter the course of the Medium Term Financial Strategy. Certainty would make a significant difference to the Council’s financial planning and the services it delivered. The Council’s overriding financial strategy was, and would continue to be, to drive down its net cost base through the Towards Financial Sustainability Programme.
There still remained a current savings target of £1.5 million on the General Fund, which was significant, particularly in light of the revenue reductions of nearly £10 million over the last decade. Considerable progress had already been made with over 50% of the savings target achieved. In the longer term the Council was seeking to use its influence to create the conditions for the City’s economy to recover and grow, thus increasing tax bases and ensuring its financial sustainability.
However, due to the short term need to close the budget gap the ... view the full minutes text for item 83