Published Thursday, 11th November 2021
Reigate & Banstead has published its draft revenue budget proposals for 2022/23 and updated medium-term budget forecasts in preparation for discussion at its Executive Meeting on Thursday 18 November.
This is the first formal stage in the Council’s budget setting process.
Following the meeting, the Council will consult with residents, businesses and partners on the recommendations in the report ahead of the final decision at the meeting of the Full Council in February 2022.
Reigate & Banstead has a strong track record of responsible financial management. In response to the pandemic, it has been forced to undertake a fundamental review of its medium-term financial plan. A significant reduction in demand for parking, as a result of changes to working patterns following the Covid-19 pandemic, has directly led to a £1.3m decrease in the Council’s parking income. With parking demand now not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels, this represents a reduction of around 7.5% in the resources available to fund our services.
The Government has provided some short-term help in 2020/21 and 2021/22 to cover these income losses but that support is not likely to be available in the future.
As a consequence of this reduced revenue forecast and to be able to set a balanced budget for 2022/23, it is necessary to reduce the level of Council spending. This has been achieved in the budget report before the Executive by reducing costs, pausing some planned expenditures and/or finding new sources of income. This proposed budget ensures that the Council can continue to maintain its key services to residents, deliver high standards of service and meet the aims and objectives of its corporate plan, Reigate & Banstead 2025.
The report outlines detailed proposals to manage the budget proactively, increasing some budgets and reducing others. Savings are proposed through the restructuring of some teams – most notably senior management which includes a reduction in head count (vacant positions), details of which are being finalised. The Council remains committed to its support to our voluntary sector partners and will continue to maintain existing funding commitments, but is proposing to pause its small and medium grants scheme for this year. Additional savings proposed include introduction of e-billing and a reduction in frequency of its resident magazine, Borough News.
Budget growth is being sought for an additional waste and recycling crew to meet increasing demand, for the implementation of improved technology for other areas to compensate for reduced Government funding and increased business rates.
Leader of Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, Cllr Mark Brunt explains: “The pandemic has been hard on us all. Throughout, we’ve continued to deliver our high quality services and prioritised supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. However, as part of our responsible financial management we have had to make some tough decision about our spending plans for next year so that we can continue to maintain the core council services that residents expect.
“With this proposed budget, I am confident we can maintain our strong financial position ready to respond to future challenges. We will continue our work towards generating the new sources of income we need to help secure our long-term financial stability.
“We set a new budget each year and each year we work hard to get the most out of what resource we have available. I am confident that by managing our spending as we propose in the budget we will be able to offer more in future.”
Proposals in this report are based on a number of assumptions, including that Reigate & Banstead’s share of the council tax bill will increase by an average £5 per year for Band D households – which is subject to confirmation of Government guidance and agreement by the Full Council. Additional clarifications over the coming months will help provide a more accurate financial picture and further inform the final 2022/2023 budget.
Once these initial proposals have been discussed at the Executive Meeting on 18 November, an eight-week public consultation will launch on 22 November. Full details on how residents, businesses and partners can share their views will be made available soon.
Alongside this and looking to the future, the Council continues to develop its strategy to support future commercial and investment activity around its corporate plan objective to be financially self-sufficient.
Key areas of proposed budget movement identified in the draft Service & Financial Planning report include:
Community Partnerships: commitments to the nine voluntary sector organisations remain secure. Budget savings are proposed in CCTV maintenance costs, a pause on small and medium grants and taxi vouchers.
- Neighbourhood Services: growth is being sought to fund an additional waste and recycling crew in response to the increased number of households and record volumes of recycling as well as to manage the impact of the tree disease, ash dieback, across the borough.
- Management Team: savings are proposed with a planned review and restructure of the current senior management team, including deletion of two vacant posts. Details are being finalised.
- Property and Facilities: growth is sought to reflect higher business rates payments associated with council assets.
- Communications: reduced frequency of resident magazine Borough News.
- Revenues, Benefits and Fraud: growth is necessary due to reductions in Government funding whilst savings have been identified through the introduction of e-billing.
- Planning: an increase in income is proposed via increased pre-application advice fees.