Members of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet received the first draft of the 2024 to 2025 budget proposals at their meeting on 18 December.
The medium-term financial plan has previously projected a general fund deficit of £3.72 million for 2024 to 2025. Councillors received initial proposals to close the gap and balance the budget for the next and future financial years.
Members of Cabinet attended Overview and Scrutiny on 21 November and 12 December to ensure maximum opportunity for all councillors to contribute to the budget setting process.
Referring to discussions at Overview and Scrutiny, Finance Portfolio Holder John Philip reflected on the significant challenges and difficult decisions to be made.
All councils face a difficult budget round in 2024 to 2025. Inflation, high interest rates and the economic slow-down feature in the budget issues facing councils across the UK. In debating the most current draft, district councillors expect further development before the setting of the final budget in February.
Council Tax represents a relatively small proportion of the district council’s income. A 3 percent increase would approximately generate an extra £300,000, while other sources of income such as the £2 million contribution from Qualis interest payments make substantial contributions. Councillor Philip also emphasised the longer-term budget planning, looking beyond 2024 to 2025.
Further budget updates will come forward in the new year, returning to Overview and Scrutiny again before final decisions at Cabinet and Council in February.
Councillor Philip added that despite the difficult decisions, Epping Forest District Council remains in a strong financial position compared to many other councils. There is no question of the council’s ability to balance the budget and deliver essential public services.
Place delivery strategy
Following consultation with Overview and Scrutiny at the end of November, members of Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet considered feedback before affirming the council’s new place delivery strategy.
Epping Forest District Council owns and administers substantial land and property assets, making it an influential partner in shaping the district in years ahead. Directly and through Qualis, the place strategy goes further in working with other private and public sector partners. The strategy also incorporates social and economic impacts ranging from long covid and the cost of living, to broader health and wellbeing factors.
Qualis quarter 4 monitoring and 4 year plan
Cabinet also received the new 4-year plan for Qualis, also presented to Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the end of November.
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