A recording of the meeting will be available afterwards to watch on the council’s YouTube channel (DorsetCouncilUK).
The first report on the agenda provides a framework for the council’s budget for 2021/22 and the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for 2021 – 2026. It also outlines the work which will be undertaken during coming months so that the budget and MTFP can be finalised at the Full Council meeting in February 2021.
It is estimated that the total impact of COVID-19 on the council’s budget is more than £60m due to additional expenditure and lost income. After grants and reliefs from government for COVID-19, the net impact this financial year is around £35m. Without further funding from government, the council will be forced to use significant quantities of its own reserves this year to cover the gap.
The current best estimate is that the council will face a budget gap of £41.9m in 2021/22.
The council has identified £11.9m of tactical savings (such as deleting vacant posts, reducing staff travel and training budgets, and making contract efficiencies) and a potential £8.2m of savings in the way they deliver services. At this stage, this still leaves a budget gap of £21.8m so further work is required to be able to present a balanced budget proposal for Full Council to consider in February 2021.
Cllr Gary Suttle, portfolio holder for Finance, Commercial and Capital Strategy, said, “We may face a second wave of COVID-19 here in Dorset and, if we do, there will be a further financial impact from that. There is also uncertainty around the content of the government’s comprehensive spending review, likely to be announced in December, so we don’t yet have details of council funding next year.”
The cabinet will also recommend rationalisation of the council office accommodation and more flexible working.
Also to be considered are a value for money review of all council services; Dinah’s Hollow Slope Stabilisation; Weymouth Harbour and Esplanade Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy; a Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy Delivery Plan; Dog-related Public Space; radical changes to England’s current planning system and the Children and Young People and Families’ Plan 2020-2023.
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