Agenda item

2020/21 Budget and 2020-25 Medium Term Financial Strategy

Cabinet Portfolio Holder: Councillor Peter Butlin


A report that asks Council to agree the 2020/21 Budget and authorise work to continue on ensuring the 2020-25 Medium Term Financial Strategy is aligned with and supports the delivery of the Council’s ambitions as set out in the Council Plan 2025.




That Council agrees the 2020/21 Budget and authorises work to continue on ensuring the 2020-25 Medium Term Financial Strategy is aligned with and supports the delivery of the Council’s ambitions as set out in the Council Plan 2025.










Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader – Finance and Property) moved the motion and was seconded by Councillor Izzi Seccombe. (See appendices A1 and A2 to these minutes). Councillor Butlin thanked officers for their hard work as well as thanking Councillor Seccombe for her leadership. Council was informed that the whilst the medium-term financial context was less certain the authority was a strong resilient position. Investment is required in services for residents, high streets, vulnerable adults and the creation of a commercial property company.


Unlike the position in some neighbouring local authorities, reserves, Councillor Butlin stated, are healthy. Value for money allied to high quality outcomes are constantly sought with the Council building on work that has already been done.


Further investment will be required in children with special educational needs as well as in assistive technology for vulnerable adults. In addition, there is a need for spending on superfast broadband, road safety and cycleway provision.


The Council plans to invest in the provision of digital services, a reduction in its accommodation requirements, the maximisation of the benefits of land ownership and support for small and start up businesses.


Two further areas for investment were highlighted. These were the possible development of an equivalent to the new Pears Centre for the south of the county and 5G.


Amendment 1 – Labour Group


Councillor Richard Chattaway proposed the amendment as set out in appendix B to these minutes. Councillor Helen Adkins seconded the amendment.


Councillor Chattaway made the following points.


1.    The budget set should be aimed at providing services.

2.    The Council has been required to make £33m of cuts over the last 5 years. A further cut to the local government budget is expected.

3.    Reserves are currently around £9m. A further £80m – £90m of savings will be required over the next 6 years.

4.    Redundancies are being made that undermine the ability to deliver services.

5.    The Council needs to be clear on what its requirements will be around property/accommodation.

6.    Expenditure on IT does not always enhance service delivery.

7.    The capital programme has seen a degree of slippage.

8.    Domestic abuse, whether mental or physical, requires further investment.

9.    Public transport should be green, cleaner and cheaper.

10.The Labour Group would commit to turning street lights back on at night once LEDs are more prevalent.

11.Regarding the Fire and Rescue Service resources for an additional 21 firefighters are included in the Labour Group proposals.

12.Car parking charges should be limited in order to protect town centres by not deterring people from visiting them.

13.More trees should be planted. Many of these could be put on County Council land.

14.Electric vehicle charging points should be installed and to reduce single use plastic bottles water fountains be provided.

15.Waiting times are too long for special education assessment and more should be done to promote men’s health, address drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence.

16.Capital should be used to enhance town centres, sustainable transport, flood defences and small highway schemes.

17.The cuts in funding to children’s centres have been harmful to communities.


Amendment 2 – Green Group


Councillor Jonathan Chilvers moved the Green Group amendment as set out in appendix C. Councillor Keith Kondakor seconded the amendment.


In introducing the amendment Councillor Chilvers made the following points.


1.    The three main areas for attention should be transport, climate change and young people.

2.    The Green Group budget is designed to link capital and revenue. This is so as to aid the relationship between planning and design and the delivery of a project.

3.    The government has recently announced additional funding for bus services but there is a risk that there will be no resources to submit any bids.

4.    Cycling investment is to be welcomed but the Council continues to pursue an expensive road building programme. The aim should be to reduce polluting journeys.

5.    The electric vehicle charging strategy does not feature a sufficient number of charging points.

6.    Action plans aimed at addressing climate change should be produced soon.

7.    People consider that central government should be doing more to address climate control. If this does not happen then local government should do more.

8.    More investment is required in flooding and drainage.

9.    More investment is required in the skills agenda.

10.The 0-3 age bracket should be targeted using initiatives such as “Smart Start”.






Members were invited to contribute to the debate.


The following points were made.


Councillor Judy Falp –


Whitnash residents consider that they are paying more money for fewer services. The Council is not managing to maintain that which it already has.


Councillor Dave Parsons –


Child poverty continues to grow. The amount in the proposed budget will not be sufficient to address this.


Councillor John Holland –


1.    There is a need for the creation of a Portfolio Holder position that is aimed solely at addressing climate change. 

2.    There is concern for children in deprived families following the reduction in the number of children’s and sure start centres.

3.    The Police should be supported in the enforcement of speed and weight limits.


Councillor Adrian Warwick –


1.     Council spending must be undertaken in a sensible way. It needs to be consistent with every opportunity for savings being considered eg paperless committee meetings.

2.     Before additional investment can be made in services eg additional firefighters, proper costings need to be considered.


Councillor Kam Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Customer and Transformation) –


1.     £40m of savings will be delivered by the Council over the next five years. This will be achieved in part through digital working and flexible working.

2.     Libraries have entered the digital age. Although 2019 saw around 1.4m visits to libraries there were many “virtual visits” via digital means.

3.     Government is providing £5.7m to support superfast broadband roll out. In addition, work is progressing on 5G.


Councillor Colin Hayfield (Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning) –


1.    Education services will see capital investment of £63m over the next 3 years.

2.    It would be a retrograde step to re-introduce passenger transport assistants on school buses.

3.    The Council is seeking to right size school transport and SEN transport.

4.    Demand for support for special education needs continues to increase. The government has made it clear that schools must make adequate provision for children with high needs.

5.    Many schools are facing deficits. A report on this will be presented to Cabinet in July 2020.


Councillor Les Caborn (Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and

Health) –


1.    Climate change is not on the top of people’s agendas. It is services such as health care that dominate. 

2.    Providers of social care must ensure that their staff receive the living wage.

3.    Delays to discharge from hospital must be reduced.

4.    The Fire and Rescue Service hospital to home service is welcomed.

5.    The SARA scheme aims to promote self-help.

6.    Despite not being a statutory service, the County Council is working to reduce homelessness. Mental health nurses and practitioners are working on the streets to help the homeless.

7.    There is a need to look at the link between drugs, alcohol, gambling and homelessness.

8.    The incidence of suicide is a major concern.

9.    Consideration should be given to how to give more small grants to communities.

10.The Year of Wellbeing was a success. The initiative has moved on to “Wellbeing for Life”.


Councillor Peter Gilbert –


Any commitment to additional funding for the Fire and Rescue Service should be linked with the new Council Plan 2025.


Councillor Jeff Clarke (Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning) –


1.    There is an ongoing need for investment in transport.

2.    An increase in gully cleaning is underway.

3.    The Council has resources to mitigate the impact of HS2.

4.    There is a strong desire to support all road users, hence the investment in the road network.

5.    Work will continue to the development of cycle routes making travel safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

6.    Traffic growth is a major challenge.

7.    The Council will continue to work to encourage an increase in electric vehicle charging points.

8.    There is an intention to bid for government funding for bike and bus schemes.

9.    Casualty reduction continues to be a priority.


Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) –


1.    Child poverty is on the increase. There is a need to review the child poverty strategy.

2.    It is reassuring to see Cabinet and Corporate Board working together.

3.    The Dedicated Support Grant is overly complex. Government needs to address this. The arrangements regarding the DSG and Schools Forum should be reviewed.

4.    The amendment proposed by the Green Group leaves questions around transport and resources already spent.

5.    The amendment proposed by the Labour Group contains many inconsistencies.


Councillor Heather Timms (Portfolio Holder for Environment and Heritage & Culture) –


1.    Part night lighting has led to a 53% reduction of CO2 emissions over 5 years.

2.    There is scope to reduce paper use for Council meetings.

3.    It is planned to submit bids for funding to support sustainable transport and electric vehicle charging.

4.    Tree planting will be encouraged.

5.    The move of the museums collection to Hawkes Point is to be welcomed.

6.    The Coventry City of Culture and Commonwealth Games will bring exciting activities to the region.


Councillor Corinne Davies –


1.    It is important to ensure good special education needs services for disadvantaged families.

2.    Autism diagnoses are taking too long as are those for mental health support for young people.


Councillor Caroline Philips –


1.    The Labour proposals would lead to improvements to roads and footways.

2.    The Council has not kept up with demand regarding highways.


Councillor Andy Crump (Portfolio Holder for Fire & Rescue and Community Safety –


1.    The County Council invests extensively in fire protection.

2.    An inspection of the Fire and Rescue Service is expected in 2020.

3.    Any decisions on further expenditure on Fire and Rescue needs to be evidence based.

4.    Investment is required on the funding of core staff in Fire and Rescue to ensure appropriate cover in all parts of the County.

5.    Additional funding has been provided for casualty reduction.


Councillor Yousef Dahmash –


1.    There has been an increase nationally in the number of children in care.

2.    The Children’s Change Programme now takes account of domestic abuse issues and has incorporated the Strengthening Families Programme.

3.    It is important to stop young people from offending and re-offending.


Councillor Sarah Boad –


1.    The additional funding provided in the proposed budget to address climate change amounts to only £800k per annum. This should be increased significantly.

2.    Consideration should be given to the use of electric or hydrogen buses.

3.    It is not possible to be carbon free as every process involves carbon.

4.    Warwick District Council is showing leadership by proposing a £1 per week levy on residents to tackle climate change issues.

5.    More funding is required to address child poverty.


Councillor Maggie O’Rourke –


1.    There is a need to focus on what people really want.

2.    People have major concerns over air pollution, but the Council has no working transport plans.

3.    The local plans are presenting challenges as development is permitted that places pressure on the infrastructure. Eg the number of parking places at hospitals.


Councillor Clare Golby –


1.     The desire to be carbon neutral can impact on the less well of. I.e. those who can least afford it.

2.     At the Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting it was stated that although waiting periods for services by RISE appear to be long, people do receive attention and care whilst on the waiting list.

3.     Regardless of how much money is put towards supporting RISE there is still an issue regarding a national shortage of practitioners/clinicians.

4.     In instances where additional road maintenance is required, this can be supported through members’ delegated budgets.


Response of Seconders


Those who had seconded the original motion or amendments were invited to speak.


Councillor Helen Adkins (Seconder of the Labour Group amendment) stated:


·         The original motion and the amendments all contain good points. It would be useful in the future if there were more collaboration on the preparation of the budget.

·         The amendment by the Labour Group presents a balanced budget.

·         In order to meet carbon neutral targets, it will be necessary, amongst other things, to review transport plans, introduce zero emission zones, incentivise businesses to be more environmentally friendly and recognise the link between healthy activities (eg cycling) and the environment.

·         Schools need additional counsellors to support young people.

·         Streetlights should be turned on if people, with particular circumstances, request it. 


Councillor Keith Kondakor (Seconder of the Green Group amendment) stated:


·         Stagecoach does not appear to want integrated transport.

·         Any tree planting that is undertaken should use environmentally sound methods. Eg cardboard sleeves to protect saplings.

·         The increase in the number of small vans on Warwickshire’s roads is a cause for concern.

·         Traffic levels have increased as people living in Warwickshire commute into Coventry.

·         The NUCKLE scheme is important.

·         As climate events become more extreme so greater investment is required. For example, storm drains should be made bigger.

·         Investment is required to reduce crimes such as knife crime and drug related crime.

·         Investment should be made into road safety.


Councillor Izzi Seccombe (Leader of the Council and Chair of Cabinet) stated:


·       The Fire and Rescue Service is to be thanked for its work during the recent flooding.

·       Regarding the £4m provided for climate change; This is a start. It will necessary to work with district and borough councils. The Warwickshire Climate Change Group must all work together.

·       Additional funding is required for skills for employment.

·       Investment is required in school improvement.

·       Concerns over Stagecoach and RISE expressed by other members are shared.


Councillor Richard Chattaway (Leader of the Labour Group) stated:


·         There is a case for committee meetings to go paperless.

·         The Council has a resilience network. There is a case for an additional fire appliance in the county.

·         It would be useful if the Liberal Democrat Group produced its own budget.

·         The proposal to enhance expenditure on gully cleaning is welcomed but it is unclear when it was allowed to tail off.

·         It is increasingly difficult for people to obtain places in care homes. In addition, hospitals are at their limit.

·         The County Council pays less to foster carers than the private sector. This is unreasonable.

·         The widescale introduction of electric vehicles will present major logistical problems.


Councillor Jonathan Chilvers (Leader of the Green Group) stated:


·         The commitment shown to the growth of the skills agenda by the Leader of the Council was to be commended.

·         In order to develop bus services and work with service providers it will be necessary to expand the Council’s public transport team.

·         HS2 is a waste of money that is leading to destruction of the environment and communities.

·         Work being undertaken to address homelessness is to be welcomed. However, more should be doe to tackle the factors that lead to homelessness such as addiction.

·         Gully cleansing initiatives are to be welcomed.

·         Environmental issues can increase inequality. Climate change will affect all people but major climate events tend to have the greatest impact on the less well-off.

·         Good government is about managing change well.


Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader – Finance and Property) stated:


·         Globally the incidence of absolute poverty has reduced over time. The direction of travel is good.

·         Child poverty is exacerbated by family break ups, poor housing and unemployment.

·         The Council is underspending, but the time of redundancies has now passed.

·         The rate of inflation varies depending on the matter under review. For example, highways have witnessed inflation rates of around 28%.

·         Right sizing will lead to a reduction of underspends as greater control is taken of budgets.

·         The key concerns for people are adult social care and children’s services.

·         It may be possible to add more money to climate change initiatives if the government provides more.

·         5G is a new technology that offers a great deal of potential.

·         HS2 is a problem that will use all the spare energy capacity in the area. This will leave little for charging points etc.

·         The Council will support the establishment of an arm’s length property development company which, it is expected, will build extra care housing and social housing.

·         More money should be spent on skills development.

·         More should be done to tackle addictions including gambling.

·         The ultimate desire of the Council is to make lives better.




The meeting voted on the Labour Group amendment which was lost 29 against, 8 for and 11 abstentions.


The meeting voted on the Green Group amendment which was lost 29 against, 2 for and 17 abstentions.


A vote was taken on the Conservative Group budget proposals.  A recorded vote was taken in accordance with standing order 31.4 and the proposals agreed as set out below:




Councillors Barker, Bell, Brain, Butlin, Caborn, Cargill, Clarke, Cockburn, Cooke, Crump, Dahmash, Gilbert, Golby, Gran, Hayfield, Holland, Horner, Jenns, Kaur, Pandher, Parry, Reilliy, Roberts, Sargeant, Seccombe, Shilton, Simpson-Vince, Timms, Warwick, C Williams, Wright




Councillors Adkins, Boad, Chattaway, Chilvers, C. Davies, N.Davies, Falp, Fradgley, Gifford, Holland, Kondakor, O’Rourke, Parsons, Philips, Rickhards, Roodhouse, Skinner, Webb.




That Council agrees the 2020/21 Budget and authorises work to continue on ensuring the 2020-25 Medium Term Financial Strategy is aligned with and supports the delivery of the Council’s ambitions as set out in the Council Plan 2025.









Supporting documents: