Council received and considered a report, presented by the Mayor, which set out the recommended Revenue Budget, Council Tax and prudential indicators for 2016/2017.
The proposed budget had been subject to consultation which had included two presentations for Members as well as a consultation meeting with the business sector. Following the budget consultation, the Mayor confirmed that the proposals outlined in the Strategic Plan presented to Council on 25 November 2015 would stand, other than the proposal in respect of the closure of the Aspire Service, which would be subject to further consideration.
The provisional Local Government Finance Report for 2016/2017 was released on 18 December 2015 and set out detailed Local Government figures on an individual Authority basis over a four year period. The provisional settlement was confirmed on 9 February 2016. Middlesbrough would receive a £23 million (66%) reduction in Revenue Support Grant over the next four years. In terms of overall Government support, there would be a £21 million (37%) reduction in addition to the £69 million budget reductions made by the Council since 2010.
The Mayor explained that in order to balance the budget, savings of £14.1 million would be required. Details of those savings were shown at Appendix A to the submitted report. Although the draft budget minimised impact on front line services it was highlighted that efficiency savings along would not meet the projected gap over the medium term and there would be a requirement to reduce front line services.
The proposed budget requirement was £115.912 million which was detailed at Appendix B to the submitted report.
A number of factors had been considered in respect of the level of Council Tax increase which included the current levels of Council Tax, inflation, pressures from caring for vulnerable people, budget reductions required and the medium to long term implications of the Government's Autumn Statement and the Local Government Finance Settlement 2016/2017. The proposed level of Council Tax represented a 3.98% increase on the current year's level for Middlesbrough Council's element of the Council Tax for those areas without precepts and included 1.99% increase in respect of additional Social Care pressures, as proposed by the Government.
The Mayor highlighted the huge investment taking place in Middlesbrough, in spite of the cuts, and the benefits that the Combined Authority and Devolution would bring to the town.
Several Members commented on the removal of patrols at light controlled crossings, the increase in commercial rents, the Government's settlement and Council Tax and Council Tax collection rates, to which the Mayor responded.
In accordance with statutory regulations a recorded vote was taken by roll call of those Members present at that time, the results of which were as follows:-
Votes for (32):
The Mayor, D Budd, Councillors Biswas, Bloundele, (Chair), Blyth, Brady, Brunton, Carr, Cole, Davison, Dryden, Goodchild, Hellaoui, Higgins, Hussain, Lawton, Lewis, Mawston, McGee, G Purvis, P Purvis, C Rooney, D Rooney, Rostron, Shan, Sharrocks, Taylor, Thompson, Uddin, J A Walker, N J Walker, Walters, Young.
Votes against (9):
Councillors Arundale, Cox, C Hobson, J Hobson, Hubbard, McCabe, McGloin, Rathmell, Saunders.
Abstained from Voting (0).
Moved, seconded and ORDERED as follows:
a) the budget reductions outlined at Appendix A were approved.
b) the budget requirement for 2016/2017 was set at £115,912,000, as detailed in Appendix B.
c) having taken into account the matters set out in Section 32 of the Local Government Act 1992 and the items set out within the report that the basic amount of Council Tax (Band D) for 2016/2017 was £1,435.52, being a 3.98% increase in the average (Band D) Council Tax for the whole of the Borough.
d) the basic amount of Council Tax in areas with parish precepts was set at :-
Nunthorpe Parish £1,438.64
Stainton and Thornton Parish £1,445.13
e) the amounts of Council Tax for each category of dwelling were set in accordance with table 4 of Appendix E within the report .
f) the Treasury Management Strategy, Minimum Revenue Provision Statement , Investment Strategy and Prudential Indicators as set out in Appendix F were approved.