SPC logoClerk's Briefing - Agenda item Finance 10/12/13 No.47

9-13 - LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014-15 - BUDGET PREPARATIONS

1. INTRODUCTION

This Report has been produced in order to inform Sedlescombe parish councillors and to guide them regarding the setting of the parish precept for the 2014-15 financial year.

2. INCOME & EXPENDITURE

The financial statements show three years' income and expenditure ie

  1. Audited figures 2012-13 ie last financial year
  2. Expected end 2013-14 ie this financial year
  3. Budget for 2014-15 ie next financial year

3. INCOME - SHEET A

Please see notes included on the individual sheets and the following additional matters:

  1. Precept - the 2013-14 precept of £41,000 was a 36.51% increase on the 2012-13 precept figure. A 1% increase on the 2013-14 precept would result in £41,400 for 2014-15 precept.

  2. Council Tax Reduction Scheme Grant. In 2013-14 Rother passed on the full relevant amount of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme Grant to its parish councils (£2172 for Sedlescombe). Rother has announced that, for 2014-15, the grant is expected to be reduced by 15% (making Sedlescombe's grant likely to be £1816.19), in line with the expected reduction in Rother's overall Government grant. It assumes a consistent approach is achieved across all district councils in East Sussex. If, however, the actual Government grant reduction announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 05/12/13 is significantly different, then we have been warned that Rother may need to revisit the amount of grant to be distributed. The Finance Committee will be updated at the meeting on 10/12/13. It should be noted that some district councils across the country are not proposing to give any grant to their parish councils and, although the Government Minister has recommended that the grant is passed on, there will be no requirement for district councils to do so.

  3. Capping/referenda. The NALC Chairman has reported on the current situation following a meeting with the Minister for Communities and Local Government and clarification received from CLG as follows:

    1. The principles of capping/referenda have always applied to town and parish council, but ministers have not implemented them, always saying that they were keeping the position under review.
    2. The 'de minimis" threshold might be the £70 level.
    3. No decisions have been taken yet for 2014-15 although they are expected this month.

    The Band D Annual Amount for Sedlescombe in 2013-14 was £67.62 and, therefore, it can be appreciated that the setting of a 'de minimis' amount of £70 would mean that Sedlescombe would be creeping too close for comfort. Care will need to be taken when setting the 2014-15 Budget.

    The amount of precept on Sheet A is £41,400, a 1% increase on the 2012-13 precept. However, the Council Tax base for 2014-15 has not yet been announced and, therefore, it is not yet possible to work out what the Band D amount will be and it is likely that the percentage increase will be based on that figure.

  4. Agency income from Authorities. Until April 2016, the Parish Council and Rother DC have an agreement regarding the maintenance of the public car park whereby SPC is paid a small sum for carrying out the work. However, the price variation mechanism is reviewed each year and, therefore, the actual payment will not be known until the time comes to received it. There is not likely, however, to be a substantial difference.
4. EXPENDITURE - ADMINISTRATION - SHEET B The following items have been included in the budget for 2014-15 but need approval:
  1. Miscellaneous (26) - This includes £150 to cover the cost of providing a unit of furniture on casters complete with 20 lever arch files for storage of Parish Council papers.
  2. The gross salary figure includes a 1% increase for 2014-15. For approval by the Council if approved by the Government in due course.
5. EXPENDITURE - OTHER - SHEET C The following items have been included in the budget for 2014-15 but need approval:
  1. Neighbourhood Plan. At the end of November 2013 and taking account of the amount contractually agreed for Neil Homer, the expenditure on NH Planning for 2013-14 reached £11,500, leaving £3,000 in hand for further expenses between the start of December 2013 and end March 2014. A further £5,000 has been shown in the 2014-15 budget which means a further £8,000 total expenditure (in addition to the £11,500). This may be too much and maybe could be reduced in order to increase general funds expected to be in hand at the end of 2014-15.

  2. Mowing & strimming, litter collection and weedkilling. Increased costs as quoted by Landscape Services for the same work as last year apart from two extra cuts of the East View Terrace area. The 2012-13 figures do not show this contract separately and, therefore, direct comparison with 2013-14 and 2014-15 is not possible.

  3. Traffic calming. £1,000 has been included in the 2013-14 figures so that either a speed camera or a share of one can be purchased or some other traffic calming paid for. This figure will depend on the result of the meeting with Brian Banks of E.Sx Highways on 06/12/13 and further discussions of the Parking & Traffic Advisory Committee to take place on 17/12/13. This is particularly regarding the "gateways" and whether arrangements for construction can be made locally.

  4. Tree work. Some budget has been included in Red Barn Field, East View Kickabout Area, the Village Green and the Playing Field for tree work in the 2014-15 budget as well as in the 2013-14 budget for the Riverside Playing Field.

  5. Public conveniences. Although the Parish Council does not wish to take over maintaining the public conveniences from Rother, it may be worth considering using them for a PCSO meeting place as well as keeping one male/female toilet. The cost could be prohibitive but, maybe grant assistance could be obtained. £5,000 has been included.

  6. Riverside Playing Field. £1,000 has been retained for 2013-14 to allow for a new small piece of equipment and £100 towards replacement bollards. Also £5,000 for, or towards, a parking area.

  7. MUGA. Allowance made in 2013-14 for another set of lines @ £160. Tape could be a cheaper option. As mentioned in the notes, in 2014-15, £100 allowed for maintenance eg moss removal a couple of times.
6. SUMMARY - SHEET D Funds/Reserves. The expenditure proposed in the draft budget for 10/12/13 will mean that:
  1. The general reserves would be considerably reduced and would dip below the 1/3 threshold for general reserves.
  2. A new MUGA Fund should have received the first annual receipt towards recolouring in Year 6, regular moss treatment (£400 p.a.) and saving for the next resurfacing (£1,500 p.a.) in Year 12.
  3. The Access Fund has been removed from the 2013-14 and the 2014-15 budgets following the top coating of Ladybird Lane in November 2013.
Information
  1. All figures below £41,400 in the Information section, are estimated awaiting Rother's information on the Council Tax Base Rate.

7. LIST OF UNUSUAL EXPENDITURE WHICH THE PARISH COUNCIL MIGHT LIKE TO CONSIDER REDUCING, REMOVING OR TRYING TO FIND FUNDING FOR

2013-14

  1. £150 - Could remove budget for file storage unit including empty lever arch files
  2. £14500 - Could reduce Neighbourhood Plan budget for this year (at end November £11,500 if Neil Homer's contract is included).
  3. £1000 - Traffic calming - could remove/reduce budget for this year
  4. £2300 - Riverside Playing Field - could remove £1000 from this year's budget set aside for a new piece of playground equipment.

2014-15

  1. £5000 - Could reduce Neighbourhood Plan budget for next year
  2. £858 - Litter collection, could reduce number of litter collections
  3. £1000 - Village Green - could remove or reduce budget for tree maintenance of £600
  4. £5000 - Brede Lane Car Park - could remove budget for doing something to alter the public toilets to make them convenient for a PCSOs' office
  5. £6200 - Riverside Playing Field - could remove/reduce budget for a parking area of £5000
Pauline J Raymond
Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer
Sedlescombe Parish Council
01424 870508
Sedlescombe@freezone.co.uk 1 December 2013