Council have approved our 2022/23 budget, at their meeting on Monday 7th March. The 2022/23 budget and medium term outlook has been produced during a period of unprecedented uncertainty and change and it is inevitable that the financial and service delivery challenges that have faced councils for the last few years will continue for some time. It is anticipated that the governments ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent recovery will continue to present challenges to the public purse and therefore to wider local authority finances as a whole.
This year the council was at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic supporting businesses and residents across the Borough, passporting through over £30m of grants and support. During this period the council has also received government support totalling £2m to help alleviate some of the additional pressures felt during the pandemic including a reduction in Council’s income from certain services such as Leisure, Parking, Planning, Building Control and Bereavement Services. Despite this, over the coming years the Council will support a number of major developments within the Borough: an innovative regeneration plan for the town using £21 million pounds of Towns Fund monies, promotion of new house building schemes, including the Quadrant development, and releasing Housing Infrastructure Fund monies to expedite such schemes.
The financial regime following the conclusion of the government’s Spending Review, will determine the Council’s future financial landscape, constraints and opportunities in the coming years. The challenge of delivering balanced budgets will therefore remain a key issue going forward. In support of this the overall finances and risk management processes of the Council are robust, and alongside the annual budget, the quarterly performance reporting process will provide updates on any impacts experienced as things become clearer.
In 2022/23 a budget is proposed that allows expenditure to be financed through some use of reserves in order to smooth the impact of the councils ongoing pressures. However savings will be required going forward as a result of service cost pressures, income levels dropping, reduced business rates growth and the ending of the New Homes Bonus. This approach will mean that the Council can continue to provide services whilst also supporting its overall objectives.
Councillor Jonathan Noble, the Finance Portfolio Holder has stated: ‘The Council will continue to face financial pressures in the near future. There are several unknowns: the outcome of the Government’s Fair Funding Review for Local Government; potential further localisation of business rates; the likely end of the New Homes Bonus; a progressive diminution of Central Government funding; and the extent of price increases for utilities and fuel. For all these reasons the Council must show prudence and caution with regard to its financial management. We will strive to achieve further efficiencies and opportunities through our Partnership with East Lindsey District Council and South Holland District Council.’
The key elements of the 2022/23 Budget are as follows:
- An annual increase in Council Tax of £4.95;
- Maximising income generation through Investment and Growth and looking at new opportunities into the medium term;
- Allowance for unavoidable growth on services (i.e. new statutory obligations and pay & contractual inflation) but no allowance for any increase for general inflation;
- Ongoing Budget challenge to ensure that budgets are aligned with corporate priorities;
- An annual delivery plan as part of the new South and East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership to look at areas for future sharing and efficiency