Coronavirus: Budget setting process altered due to extraordinary pressures

The process was due to be discussed at the online meeting of the Full Council this week but was amended at the last moment.

Cllr David Seaton, Cabinet Member for Finance explained: “It was my intention to present initial budget proposals for our medium-term financial strategy.

“However, as we have been advised many times in the past months this pandemic has caused great uncertainty for all councils, with our prime focus in Peterborough being on how we respond and protect the lives of our residents.

“Officers have managed that response in unique circumstances with great professionalism and kept us all up to date throughout with weekly reports and details briefings.

“I think this has been our priority and rightly so – hence this report recognises that and adjusts our budget policy framework procedurals from a ‘rolling’ budget approach, to that of two distinct phases.

“Phase One will be a consultation in the Autumn of 2020, and Phase Two will see a second consultation in the Spring of 2021.

“The 2020/21 process was specifically approved by Full Council, so this report regularises the position for the current year.”

According to the report the purpose of Phase One  will identify new financial pressures arising in the current financial year and take timely actions to contain expenditure within approved budgets, look at the likely budget position for the forthcoming financial and provide an opportunity for directors to work up budget proposals at an early stage.

Phase two will result in the Cabinet making recommendations to the council on further budget proposals and the consolidated Mid Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) Report, to enable the Council to set a lawful and balanced budget and to set the Council Tax rate by March 11 each year.

Every council has a statutory obligation to agree the council tax by that date.

In January 2021, the Cabinet will formally publish its second phase of budget proposals and the consolidated MTFS and if required, will be subject to a consultation process, which will commence at this time.

As part of the consultation process, the Cabinet shall formally consult on the further budget proposals with all scrutiny committees at a joint meeting on these proposals.

The Cabinet shall also consult with local stakeholders, including residents, partner organisations and businesses, the same process outlined in Phase One to ensure that decisions made reflect community and Members’ views.

Following consultation, the final budget proposals and consolidated MTFS report will be considered by the Cabinet and presented to the Council for consideration and approval.

This will be required to take place no later than March 11 2021.

By Rob Alexander

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Peterborough Matters

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