Agenda item

Revenue and Capital Budgets 2017/18

To set the overall level of General Fund and Housing Revenue Account revenue and capital expenditure for Dartford Borough Council for 2017/18, to agree the level of Council Tax for Dartford Borough in its parished and unparished areas, to approve the Pay Policy Statement for 2017/18 and to determine sundry related matters.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council, Councillor J A Kite, asked permission to make a couple of announcements before turning to consider the Capital and Revenue Budgets for 2017/18. He informed Members that he had just returned from a very moving private visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration camp which had many lessons for modern society. The Leader was also pleased to announce that the Council had been awarded the Kent Design & Development Award for the refurbishment of Fairfield Pool against strong competition. This was a considerable achievement and the new operator was generating significant income for the Council whereas previously Fairfield had been a cost to the Council. He congratulated the Officers involved in the project and also Councillor Lloyd, the Portfolio Holder for Council Finances & Major Capital Projects who had been deeply involved in the project.   

 

The General Assembly of the Council considered a report which set out the Council’s capital and revenue budgets for 2017/18. The report, which included the revenue and capital estimates, identified the level of precepts for Kent County Council, the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Kent Fire and Rescue and the Town and Parish Councils within the Borough.

 

Members were asked to set the level of expenditure for Dartford Borough Council Capital and Revenue Budgets for 2017/18, to approve the level of rents chargeable for Housing Revenue Account dwellings for 2017/18, to agree the level of Council Tax for Dartford Borough in its parished and unparished areas, and to determine sundry related matters. Members were also asked to approve the Council’s Pay Policy Statement.

 

The Leader of the Council introduced the budget report by expressing regret that he was proposing the first increase in Dartford’s council tax in seven years but was proud of the Council’s record of being able to continue to deliver services without any increase during that period. However this was simply not sustainable given the national changes to government funding and the proposal was to increase Dartford’s council tax by 3%, equating to a £4.95 increase for an average Band D property. The Council took its responsibilities to Council tax payers very seriously as it was aware that it was their money and the Leader contrasted the years of low and zero rate increases in the last 14 years with the much higher levels of increase which had preceded it. He explained the need to ensure that there was no regression in terms of core service provision and highlighted areas of continuing success such as the refurbishment of Fairfield Pool, the many events held across the Borough, the first new build council housing in over 40 years and the successful Town Centre vision bid which had secured £4.3 million for Dartford. There were also many challenges ahead such as traffic flow, the decision on the location of a new Thames River crossing for which the Council had been lobbying the Government and on other works to ameliorate problems associated with the Dartford crossing. Air quality remained a major issue for local people and must be addressed. Managing the growth of the locality in terms of additional housing, population and the economy were important objectives.

 

Cleanliness and littering were also of local concern. Although the Council’s litter enforcement contract via Kingdom was delivering results there was still a problem in terms of a poor public culture of disposing of litter responsibly. Given the importance of this issue the Leader of the Council announced that he would be setting up a Leader’s Advisory Group on Litter Enforcement to collect evidence and challenge existing practices and to identify what was being done well and areas for improvement. He praised the work of many local voluntary litter pickers and was looking to assist with the direction and co-ordination of this across the Borough by providing all the equipment the volunteers needed and to establish a scheme whereby the volunteers might be rewarded via contributions to charities of their choice. He also announced measures to crack down on fly-tipping by greater use of intelligence-led interventions and highlighted the work of the Lead Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety in developing a Public Space Protection Order for the town centre.         

 

Refuse collection services were improving and had a 98.7% success rate but this still meant that there was room for improvement and the Council would work hard to address this. The Council also looked to improve recycling however the focus had been on avoiding the use of landfill disposal which had been very low in recent years running at 1-2% but had now been reduced to just 0.25%.

 

The Leader of the Council said that the proposed budgets would support these services and objectives and continuing priorities such as addressing the issue of child poverty. He praised the work of the Working Group on Child Poverty and the work undertaken to identify opportunities where Council services could help to deal with the problems associated with Child Poverty. Dealing with homelessness was another complex challenge and considerable resource had been devoted to this and had improved the situation but it was not something that could be addressed simply by allocating more-and-more money to the problem. The Council needed to work closely with many partner organisations and to recognise that this work is ongoing throughout the year rather than simply focussing on pinch points at certain times of year. For this reason the Leader announced that he would be establishing a further Leader’s Working Group to challenge and progress the way local organisations tackled homelessness.

 

In conclusion the Leader of the Council stressed his pride in the work that the Council carried out but recognised the need for a small increase in Council tax to build upon this good work and to continue to deliver the priorities for the people of Dartford, to ensure that there was no need to cut services and for the Council to respond to growth in the Borough. He commended the budget to the Council and proposed that the budget be agreed as per the recommendations in the report.

 

The motion was seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Council.

 

In response the Shadow Leader of the Council recognised that the budget had been prepared following consultation with the public but said that he could see little reflection of this in the report. He quoted from a recent survey in the Dartford Messenger which, he said, showed that 4 out of 5 respondents didn’t think they were receiving value for money for their council tax. He said that the proposed budget required people to pay more money for less service and that this represented a breach of the contract between the Council and local people. He said that there was no explanation of how the additional money would be spent and that the Council was failing to deliver on its own priorities. He contrasted the Council’s desire to keep Dartford safe with a reduction in the budget for CCTV at a time when anti-social behaviour was at a 3 year high. There was nothing in the budget to explain measures to attract new business to Dartford or to capture and develop existing entrepreneurial talent whilst the Council’s waste collection and recycling were in a critical condition. The employment of Kingdom to manage litter enforcement was barely scraping the service, not addressing the issue and simply generating numerous complaints. He said that the Government had abandoned its commitment to fund local government which was demonstrated in the fall of Dartford’s Revenue Support Grant from £7.5 million in 2010 to £0.0 in 2019/20 and that the report showed a growing budget gap from £1.2 Million in 2018/19 to £4 million in 2021/22. The options for addressing this were increasing council tax, drawing upon limited reserves or cutting services but there was no explanation in the report as to how this hole would be funded and there was no vision for the future.

 

Other Members highlighted the positive initiatives already being carried out, the positive interaction with local people and partners, and the groundswell of good will and willingness to participate in making Dartford a better place to live and work. Initiatives to deal with child poverty and homelessness were cited. It was also pointed out that although the Revenue Support Grant was being phased out this was being replaced by other revenue streams such as business rate retention and the New Homes Bonus, which had actually grown due to growth in Dartford, and that actually the Council would be spending more and not cutting services.   

 

Another Member challenged the effectiveness of current litter enforcement and the performance of recycling, and also stated that whilst the Council was sending less waste to landfill this was a national trend directly attributable to European Union directives. Concern was also expressed at the reduction in the CCTV budget, the fall in direct funding to local government from Central Government and lack of clarity about future funding streams and how the increase in council tax would translate into improved services.

 

Other Members felt that the criticism of the budget proposals were unnecessarily negative, failing to recognise many positives and also failing to identify alternative budgetary proposals.

 

The Leader of the Council thanked Members for their comments but expressed disappointment at the lack of positivity from some sections of the Chamber. He placed more weight on the many examples of support from local people for the Council’s work rather than the views of a small number of respondents to a newspaper survey with carefully worded questions. He considered that the proposed increase in council tax, the first in seven years, represented good value for money when compared to the prices people expected to pay for other goods and services. The Council always strove to improve services but would not resort to practices such as reducing the frequency of refuse collection to deliver improved performance in waste recycling. He cited economic growth and the fact that the Council delivered on its service priorities year on year. Whilst Revenue Support Grant was falling the Council was raising more from the other revenue streams which meant that the budget proposals were sustainable. The first increase in council tax for seven years was as a result of the impact of inflation during that period and the need to ensure that services continued to improve and not to regress. He asked critics of the budget to focus on working together to build upon the strengths of the Council and local people and businesses. He thanked the Managing Director, the Senior Management Team and the Financial Services Manager for their work in preparing the budget report and hoped that Members would agree the budget proposals.         

 

The recommendations contained in the budget report were then voted on en-bloc by recorded vote as follows:

 

 

FOR

AGAINST

Councillor Mrs A D Allen, MBE

Councillor I D Armitt

Councillor A Bardoe

Councillor S H Brown

Councillor L A Canham

Councillor P F Coleman

Councillor P Cutler

Councillor M J Davis

Councillor B E Garden

Councillor D A Hammock

Councillor D E Hunnisett

Councillor S R Jarnell

Councillor K M Kelly

Councillor M B Kelly

Councillor J A Kite, MBE

Councillor E J Lampkin

Councillor R Lees

Councillor A R Lloyd

Councillor C S McLean

Councillor D J Mote

Councillor J A Ozog

Councillor J M Ozog

Councillor R S L Perfitt

Councillor Mrs M I Peters

Councillor D J Reynolds

Councillor L J Reynolds

Councillor A S Sandhu, MBE

Councillor R L Shanks

Councillor C J Shippam

Councillor Mrs R F Storey

Councillor D Swinerd

Councillor Mrs P A Thurlow

Councillor R J Wells

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor R M Currans

The Mayor, Councillor J Burrell

Councillor J S Hawkes

Councillor J Jones

Councillor Dr B K Kaini

Councillor P Kelly

Councillor M Maddison

Councillor T Maddison

Councillor D Page

 

TOTAL:  35

TOTAL: 7

 

 

The motion was carried.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.         That the probable outturn and overall financial position for 2016/17, as set out in Section 6 of the report, be noted.

 

2.         That, in the light of the probable outturn of the General Fund for 2016/17, the estimated General Fund balance of £3m at 31 March 2017 be noted, as set out in paragraph 7.6.1 of the report.

 

3.         That the main changes to the General Fund Budget, as set out in Appendix A (ii) to the report, be noted.

 

4.         That the Council Tax requirement of £5,930,960 for 2017/18, as set out in Appendix B (i) to the report, be approved.

 

5.         That the Pay Policy Statement 2017/18, at Appendix P to the report, be approved.

 

6.         That an increase of 1.5% be applied to all salary levels excluding protected pay.

 

7.         That a 1.5% increase be applied to Members’ and Mayoral allowances and other relevant allowances for 2017/2018.

 

8.         That the level of Mayoral allowances be based on a standard rate income tax payer, and this be adjusted to reflect individual tax circumstances, as required.

 

9.         That it be noted that the Managing Director is given delegated authority to agree fees payable for elections as outlined in the Pay Policy Statement at Appendix P to the report.

 

10.       That the fees and charges as set out in Appendix B (ii) to the report, be noted with effect from 1 April 2017.

 

11.       That it be noted that the Managing Director has delegated authority to determine individual sums to be met from the Identified Initiative Reserve in accordance with the agreed general purpose for which it was established.

 

12.       That it be noted that the Managing Director has delegated authority, in consultation with the Leader, to determine any expenditure funded from the New Homes Bonus.

 

13.       That the Community Grants budget, as set out in Appendix B (iii) to the report, be noted.

 

14.      That the overall Housing Revenue Account Budget, at Appendix C (ii) to the report, be approved.

 

15.      That it be noted that the rent charges relating to Housing Revenue Account properties will be reduced by 1% in line with government regulations.

 

16.      That the fees and charges relating to Housing Revenue Account properties, as set out in Appendix C (iii) to the report, be noted

 

17.      That the 2.5 % increase in rent chargeable for pitches at Claywood Lane Caravan Site, Bean be noted.

 

18.      That the Corporate Property Maintenance and Improvement Programme be noted, as set out in Appendix E to the report.

 

19.                  That the overall Capital Programme and budget for 2017/18 to 2019/20 be agreed and the detail noted as set out in Appendices D (i) and D (ii) to the report.

 

20.       That the Medium Term Financial Plan shown at Appendix B (iv) to the report, be noted.

 

21.       That the Treasury Management Strategy Statement shown at Appendix D (iv) to the report, and the Prudential Indicators shown at Appendix D(iii) to the report, be approved, and that the Managing Director be given delegated authority to borrow for capital investment purposes, in accordance with the Treasury Management Strategy, should it be in the interest of the Council to do so.

 

22.      That it be noted that the Managing Director is authorised to charge such sums which are currently anticipated to be met from revenue, balances or reserves, or capital accounts, to other accounts, as is deemed to be in the interest of the authority.

 

23.      That the budget amendment rules for 2017/18, as set out in Appendix G to the report, be agreed.

 

24.      That the special expense General Fund budget (parish precepts) as set out in Appendix J(i) to the report, totalling £1,180,182, be noted.

 

25.      That the requirement of major preceptors, as detailed in Appendix J(i) to the report, be noted.

 

26.      That the CIPFA statement on the role of the Chief Financial Officer, reproduced as Appendix N to the report, be noted.

 

27.      That the financial threshold for the definition of a key decision, in accordance with Article 13.03(b) of the Constitution, be set at £500,000.

 

28.      That it be noted that, at its meeting on 12 December 2016, the General Assembly of the Council calculated the following amounts as its Council Tax Base for the year 2017/18 in accordance with regulations made under Section 31 B(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as amended (the Act):

 

(a)          £35,334.88, being the Council Tax Base for 2017/2018, for the whole Council area.

and

 

(b)          the aggregate of the amounts for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a Parish precept relates, as follows:

 

 

   £    

Bean Parish

Darenth Parish

Longfield and New Barn Parish

Southfleet Parish    

Stone Parish

Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley Parish

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town

Wilmington Parish                          

557.80

1,521.49

2,504.78

610.06

3,954.21

1,453.53

4,844.48

2,974.82

 

 

 

29.      That the following amounts now be calculated by the Council for the year 2017/18 in accordance with Sections 31 to 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended:-

 

(a)  £51,027,407         being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the amounts set out in Section 31 A (2) of the Act, taking into account all precepts issued to it by Parish Councils.

 

(b)  £43,916,265         being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in section 31 A (3) of the Act.

 

(c)  £7,111,142           being the amount by which the aggregate at (a) above exceeds the aggregate at (b) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with sections 31 A (4) of the Act as its Council Tax requirement for the year.

 

(d)  £201.25                 being the amount at (c) above, divided by 28 (a) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with section 31 B (1) of the Act, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year (including parish precepts)

 

(e)  £1,180,182          being the aggregate amount of all special items, i.e. the total of the parish and town council precepts, referred to in Section 34(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992

 

(f)  £167.85                 being the amount at (d) above, less the result given by dividing the amount at (e) above by the amount at 28(a) above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 34(2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which no special item relates

 

            (g)       Part of the Borough's area:

 

£200.74          Bean Parish

£214.59          Darenth Parish

£195.65          Longfield and New Barn Parish

£181.84          Southfleet Parish

£251.88          Stone Parish

£235.97          Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley Parish

£269.92          Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town

                        £197.02          Wilmington Parish

 

being the amounts given by adding to the amount at 29 (f) above to the amounts of the special item or items relating to dwellings in those parts of the Council's area mentioned above, divided in each case by the amount at 28 (b) above, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 34(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as the basic amounts of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which one or more special items relate.

 

(h)  That the following amounts, given by multiplying the amounts at 29 (f) and 29 (g) above by the number which, in the proportion set out in Section 5(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, is applicable to dwellings listed in a particular valuation band divided by the number which in that proportion is applicable to dwellings listed in valuation band D, calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 36(1) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, be the amounts to be taken into account for the year in respect of categories of dwellings listed in different valuation bands:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bean Parish

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

133.83

156.13

178.44

200.74

245.35

289.96

334.57

401.48

 

Darenth Parish

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

143.06

166.90

190.75

214.59

262.28

309.96

357.65

429.18

 

Longfield and New Barn Parish

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

130.43

152.17

173.91

195.65

239.13

282.61

326.08

391.30

 

Southfleet Parish

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

121.23

141.43

161.64

181.84

222.25

262.66

303.07

363.68

 

Stone Parish

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

167.92

195.91

223.89

251.88

307.85

363.83

419.80

503.76

 

Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley Parish

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

157.31

183.53

209.75

235.97

288.41

340.85

393.28

471.94

 

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

179.95

209.94

239.93

269.92

329.90

389.88

449.87

539.84

 

Wilmington Parish      

 

 

       A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

131.35

153.24

175.13

197.02

240.80

284.58

328.37

394.04

 

Unparished Parts of the Borough

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

111.90

130.55

149.20

167.85

205.15

242.45

279.75

335.70

 

 

 

 

 

 

30.         That it be noted that, for the year 2017/18, the major precepting authorities have stated the following amounts in precepts issued to the Council, in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, for each of the categories of dwellings shown below:-

 

Precepting Authorities

 

Kent County Council – including social care precept

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

785.88

916.86

1047.84

1178.82

1440.78

1702.74

1964.70

2357.64

 

 

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

104.77

122.23

139.69

157.15

192.07

226.99

261.92

314.30

 

Kent Fire and Rescue

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

48.90

57.05

65.20

73.35

89.65

105.95

122.25

146.70

 

 

31.       That, having calculated the aggregate in each case of the amounts at 29(h) and 30 above, the Council, in accordance with Section 30(2) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, hereby sets the following amounts of Council Tax for the year 2017/18 for each of the categories of dwellings shown on the following page.

 

 


Bean Parish

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1073.38

1252.27

1431.17

1610.06

1967.85

2325.64

2683.44

3220.12

 

Darenth Parish                                                            

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1082.61

1263.04

1443.48

1623.91

1984.78

2345.64

2706.52

3247.82

 

Longfield and New Barn Parish                                          

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1069.98

1248.31

1426.64

1604.97

1961.63

2318.29

2674.95

3209.94

 

Southfleet Parish                                            

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1060.78

1237.57

1414.37

1591.16

1944.75

2298.34

2651.94

3182.32

 

Stone Parish                                                    

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1107.47

1292.05

1476.62

1661.20

2030.35

2399.51

2768.67

3322.40

 

Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley Parish            

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1096.86

1279.67

1462.48

1645.29

2010.91

2376.53

2742.15

3290.58

 

Swanscombe and Greenhithe Town           

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1119.50

1306.08

1492.66

1679.24

2052.40

2425.56

2798.74

3358.48

 

Wilmington Parish                                          

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1070.90

1249.38

1427.86

1606.34

1963.30

2320.26

2677.24

3212.68

 

Unparished Parts of the Borough

 

 

A

 

B

 

C

 

D

 

E

 

F

 

G

 

H

1051.45

1226.69

1401.93

1577.17

1927.65

2278.13

2628.62

3154.34

 

 

 

Supporting documents: