Agenda item

Proposed Budget Report 2024/25


Councillor Lowry (Cabinet Member for Finance) introduced the report and highlighted the following points:


a)    Since the draft budget was published in November 2023 the final government settlement had been received. There had been a select committee which looked at the budget alongside a public and business engagement exercise and views had been inserted into the final budget report;


b)    The budget would protect vital public services despite significant demands on the Council;


c)    The Capital Finance Strategy and the Treasury Management Strategy had been approved by the Audit and Governance Committee;

d)    Recommended a revenue budget of £236.662 million;

e)    The budget did not have any reductions in critical services and did not include the introduction of any new charges for services;

f)     The budget included additional funding for repairing roads and grass cutting;

g)    There was an increase in core resources totalling £18.812 million which included the benefits of business rates growth, the Devon wide rates pool and additional income from council tax due to an increase in properties and the collection rate;

h)    There would be additional expenditure of £12,070 million to focus on issues within Children’s Services directorate and £13.7 million for the People’s directorate;

i)     £3.287 million was allocated within the budget to aid in the increase of homelessness and the use of temporary accommodation;

j)     Assumed future funding ambitions of the Capital Programme was set at £325 million as set out in appendix 6.


k)    The capital programme had become more expensive due to the rise in interest rates and the capital programme would be reviewed to ensure its affordability for future years;

David Northey (Service Director for Finance) added:


l)     The budget was dependent on the outcome of the conversations had with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) which started in summer 2023;

m)  Plymouth City Council were waiting for Exceptional Financial Support in the form of a capitalisation direction from DLUHC;

n)    There was an outstanding issue regarding a transaction made in October 2019 to significantly reduce the cost of the pension deficit. The Council accounted for the transaction as Capital, however the Council’s independent auditors stated that although the transaction was not detrimental to the public purse, it was unusual and they had concerns around the process that the Council went through and whether the transaction should be capital or revenue.


o)    The Council had requested this capitalisation direction in order to close the 19/20 accounts and to set a budget for 2024/24. If granted this would allow the Council to progress an accounting adjustment for 19/20 and close those accounts.


p)    The Full Council meeting scheduled for the end of February had moved to allow the government to make a decision on the capitalisation direction by early March 2024.


q)    The Council had a statutory obligation to set the Council tax rates by the close of play 11 March 2024.


r)    An alternative budget, should the Council not receive the capitalisation direction had not been put forward and a letter had been sent from DLUHC which advised they were working with the Council to set a balanced budget;


s)     If the Council did not receive the capitalisation direction by 8 March 2024, a further report would be submitted to Cabinet by that date with further recommendations which would then go to Council for approval.

Tracey Lee (Chief Executive) also added:


t)     The requested capitalisation direction would be a one off for the Council and it was expected with conditions attached to the support;


u)    In 2019/20 Grant Thornton (Independent Auditors) had undertaken a governance review in relation to the transaction which they considered to be novel and innovative. As a result of the review, recommendations were accepted by Council and subsequently implemented;

v)    The upcoming Full Council meeting had been moved to 8 March 2024 to allow the in principal decision regarding the Exceptional Financial Support to come from DLUHC.


w)   The budget was significant in that the Council would not be making cuts to frontline services;


x)    The Council had modelled cost and volume of huge demands on its services for Children’s services, Adult Social Care and for homelessness;


y)    The Council had sought to provide the right funding for children’s services within its improvement journey.

Councillor Briars-Delve (Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change) added:


z)    The previous budget had not had sufficient funds to cover grounds maintenance including grass cutting;

aa)  An additional £300,000 had been added to the budget to help with grounds running costs and improving grass cutting in both crematoria and play parks;


bb)Net staffing for grass cutting would improve and there would be the hiring of an additional tractor driver and specialist driver to make the required difference residents requested;

cc)  £70 million of projects over the coming years in the Capital Programme had been included to focus on delivering a net zero Plymouth, which meant this was the greenest budget Plymouth City Council had ever tried to introduce.


dd)The Climate investment fund revenue budget had increased from £250,000 to £450,000 and would support approximately £2 million worth of investment in the capital programme in Plymouth decarbonisation projects.

Councillor Dann (Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Sport, Leisure & HR, and OD) added:


ee)There had been significant investment into Brickfield’s sports facility with other partners and would provide a new Health and Wellbeing hub as well as providing sports facilities for elite sports in one of the most deprived areas in the city; 

ff)    Plymouth City Council had been working with Active Leisure to support the Life Centre, Tinside and to ensure swimming at Mount Wise remained free;


gg)  Together with the Sports Development team and partners across the city the Council was accessing as many communities as possible;


hh)In light of inclusivity, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technology would be used to alleviate everyday work from staff and allow them to be available to help the public;


ii)    The HROD budget had been right sized to ensure staff at the Council were being paid the living wage and apprentices were being paid appropriately;

jj)    Cost of Living Action Plan would be expanded and continued to support residents with the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Laing (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Culture, Events and Communications) highlighted:


kk)The budget setting for Children’s services has been as a result of intense analysis and detailed planning over a sustained period of time. Staff from across the Council had been involved in building a budget that was realistic, addressing issues around volume and demand and the conditions of the economic market;


ll)    The service would see increased staffing to meet the demand, but to also maintain appropriate caseloads to ensure good quality work as part of its improvement journey


mm)      A significant issue for Children’s Services was the rising cost of independent specialists and residential placements which was reflected in the lack of placements in the southwest region and across the country;


nn)Whilst an increase in the budget was proposed to offset the current cost and volume of our children requiring a service now, further growth had been built into the budget to identify solutions and changes in practice to enable more children to live at home or with extended family or in homes with foster carers closer to Plymouth;

oo)A recent Foster Care Summit had set the programme for growth and support of Plymouth City Council’s in-house fostering and special guardianship service. Internal foster carers were vital for the city and the Council was committed to increasing the number of foster carers and a better package of reward and support to them based on feedback;

pp)The budget allowed the service to invest in staff to ensure optimised case-loads to enable social workers and support staff to do good quality work with children and families. This was also vital in ensuring good recruitment and retention of social workers for the city;


qq)The budget would provide help and support to children and families at the right time and would develop the early help offer for partners in the city. It would improve support for the Council’s in house foster carers and special guardians to ensure that there were fewer children living in residential placements;


rr)  There would be additional capacity in the Council’s brokerage and commissioning team which would help placement sufficiency challenges;


ss)   New training and development opportunities had been created as a result of the budget and alongside a successful recruitment drive with the Council’s current recruitment and retention offer it would help Plymouth to achieve a permanent and successful workforce;

tt)   The budget would ensure the continuation of investment in culture in Plymouth and it was predicted to see considerable return on those investments on Plymouth and its residents;


uu)Plymouth’s journey on culture place making and culture led regeneration had been nationally recognised by the Arts Council who published a major case study on Plymouth;

vv)  The budget would see the Box bringing in a quarter of a million visitors to the city, an international programme of arts and cultural events, a cultural schools programme, an engagements programme which would work with deprived communities in the city, and support for cultural organisations including Plymouth Culture, Theatre Royal, the Barbican theatre and the Art’s Cinema;


ww)       The city would deliver a events programme on the Hoe including the new summer sessions


xx)There would be significant income generation and included £2.6 million from the Box, £1.1 million for Mount Edgecumbe and would be cost neutral for the first time, and £750,000 for events;

yy)  The Council secured £50 million worth of grants had been secured over the past five years.

Councillor Haydon (Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Libraries, Cemeteries and Crematoria) added:


zz)  The new state-of-the-art crematorium would be opened in a few months and the park would deliver an up to date facility for bereaving families of Plymouth;


aaa)        There would be three ceremony rooms which would be able to hold up to 120 people or twelve for intimate funerals. The park would also offer customised lighting and module furniture which would be moveable to enable accessibility for all;



bbb)       The new lighting system would be a first for the country and you would be able to colour the wall in the deceased’s favourite colour


ccc)        There would be a new reception and admin area for families to meet the Council’s staff in a comfortable area and the park would have a public café and two function rooms that would be available to families;

ddd)      Within the budget for bereavement services, fees would remain the same.


eee)       The City would look to have council staff within libraries instead of having to travel across the city.

Councillor Cresswell (Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Apprenticeships) added:


fff)   SEND sufficiency places would be pre-planned and modular units were being opened at Millford, Cann Bridge and College Road Primary School. The Council was looking to have sufficient SEND places which might be Hubs or units within Plymouth’s schools;


ggg)        School Transport costs had been a significant challenge to the Council and the Council was committed to undertaking travel training which would provide long term benefits to some young people to become independent travellers in the city and provide crucial skills for life;

hhh)       The budget shared a fundamental commitment to unlocking Plymouth’s potential to support young people by aiding in apprenticeship training and supporting internships;


iii)   The Council was on track to provide 60 supported internships for young people;


jjj)   There were 11 apprentices working on the crematoria’s, 26 weeks of work experience, 123 qualification levels, 270 apprentice training weeks and there was engagement with 2,757 students.


Councillor Penberthy (Cabinet Member for Housing, Cooperative Development and Communities) added:


kkk)       £25,000 a year had been allocated to tackle child poverty and had been used to deal with children’s dental health and literacy which allowed for transformational project work. The Council would develop a new approach to child poverty talking about strengths rather than deficits and in June 2024 the Council would bring together a report in the activities underway for Plymouth residents to build bridges to opportunity;


lll)   There was a business as usual base budget which allowed for existing need in relation to homelessness and due to the work undertaken in 2023/24, Councillor Penberthy was confident in the £1 million savings target that was put in as the system would be transformed;


mmm)  There was investment of £10 million in temporary accommodation and £15 million for Plan for Homes 3;


nnn)       There would be further investments into Plymouths assets which included the Guildhall refurbishment, Firestone bay pool refurbishment and the opening up of the Council House had been included within the 2024/25 proposed budget.

Councillor Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport) also added:


ooo)      The budget allowed the delivery of a new cycle and walking track called Brian Vincent Way in respect of the passing of Honorary Alderman Vincent;


ppp)       The proposed budget would allow the Council to keep the velocity machine, whilst looking for new and innovative measures;


qqq)       A new bus service had been introduced and the department for Transport would like to bring their bus team to Plymouth to discuss future funding;


Councillor Aspinall (Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care) added:


rrr)        The Social Care Discharge Fund would continue which would help the Council to help local hospitals get out of there and into either the appropriate care they require or back home with a package of support;


sss) The proposed budget allowed Caring Plymouth to carry on and improve the skills of the social care workforce.

Cabinet agreed to:


1.    Note that a formal request had been submitted to DLUHC for a Capitalisation Direction, referred to as Exceptional Financial Support, in reference to the accounting treatment of the Council’s pension arrears in 2019/20;

2.    Note that the proposed budget was dependant on the receipt of either the Capitalisation Direction of a Letter of Assurance from CLUHC, ahead of the Full Council meeting;

3.    Note the Financial Risks as set out in Appendix 8;

4.    Note that a report from the Council’s Section 151 Officer (Chief Finance Officer) on the robustness of the budget estimated and the adequacy of the level of reserves would be a separate report to Council.

5.    Note the recommendations and resulting actions from the Select Committee Budget Scrutiny;


6.    Recommended the following to Full Council, subject to amendments by the Section 151 Officer in consultation with the Leader for any final technical adjustments:



The Revenue Budget 2024/25 £236.622 million;



The drawdown of £1.448 million of flexible capital receipts, as set out in the report;



The Capital Budget 2024/25 £723.701 million;



The Capital Financing Strategy 2024/25, including an adjustment to the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) within 2024/25 revenue budget, as an amendment to the Minimum Revenue Provision Statement 2024/25 to release previous overpayment totalling £0.400 million;



The Treasury Management Strategy 2024/25.

Supporting documents: