Agenda item

Budget and Precept 2021/22

The Charter Trustees are required to set their 2021/22 budget, council tax requirement and resultant precept for submission to BCP Council by 31 January 2021.


This report also updates the Charter Trustees on the conclusion of the external audit of the 2019/20 Annual Governance and Accountability Return.


The Responsible Financial Officer presented a report on the Budget and Precept 2021/22, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

The Charter Trustees were advised that the report set out the recommended budget for the 2021/22 financial year which if approved would result in a council tax requirement of £121,920 as set out in the recommendations.  The Responsible Financial Officer reported that the detail of the budget was set out in Appendix A and built on the discussion and guidance from the discussions at the budget workshop held in December 2020. The Charter Trustees were advised of the main features of the budget which included the individual budget heads being maintained at the current levels so that the base budget was fit for purpose as the Charter Trustees emerge from the pandemic and activity returns to normal. The Responsible Financial Officer reported that some of the budget heads had been reviewed such as premises, post and stationery where the budgets had been reduced to reflect savings and the actual costs that would be incurred. In addition, based on the guidance from the workshop, a Twinning budget of £1,500 had been included.  Charter Trustees were informed that a significant review of the salary costs and recharges had been undertaken and the salary recharge had increased to £59,400 with a detailed calculation set out in Appendix B to the report.  The Responsible Financial Officer reported that the calculation included time for the Head and Deputy Head of Democratic Services and the percentage allocation of staff time for the Civic Team. The Responsible Financial Officer reported on the review of the accountancy recharges which had increased to £3,400 to reflect the work and support provided by the finance team. 

The Charter Trustees were advised that expenditure of £120,600 would be funded from the precept of £121,000 less a modest investment income included this year and a small contribution to reserves.  In respect of reserves paragraph 16 refers to £37,000 which was carried into the financial year and because of the pandemic and the reduced activity it was expected that over £50,000 would be added this year from the underspend and therefore it was anticipated at 31 March 2021 the level of reserves would be over £88,000 which would be 73% of the precept .  The Responsible Financial Officer reported that a more prudent level of reserves would be 20% and explained that the budget had been constructed removing the base contribution to reserves of £19,000 and replaced with £1,400.  He referred to recommendation (c) of the report and forming a working group on how to spend the reserve for one-off activities with the initial focus on the £37,000.

The Responsible Financial Officer reported on the Tax base and explained that this had gone down from 58,609 to 56,971 which was due to the pandemic with the cost of Council Tax Support increasing and amendments to the collection rate which would affect BCP Council as a whole and the Poole Charter Trustees. 

The Charter Trustees reported that paragraph 27 of the report set out the actual calculation of the precept of £121,900 which would equate to £2.14 for a Band D property which would be a freeze on any increases on Council Tax.

The Responsible Financial Officer explained that in respect of the draft settlement for local government Charter Trustees were not subject to referendum limits for any Council Tax increases which would need to be confirmed in the final settlement which was expected to be released in February but it would be unusual for this to be changed in the final iteration.

The Charter Trustees were advised that the external audit of last year had been completed and signed off.

The Charter Trustees in considering the budget and proposed precept raised a number of issues including:

  • Concerns about the approach to spending the reserves and setting up a working party for that purpose.  The Mayor referred to various suggestions that had been made eg bringing the mayoral and sheriff’s boards up to date and possibly restoration work. Concern was expressed that such work had not been budgeted for which was disrespectful to the office holders. In addition it was highlighted that the Queens Platinum Jubilee would be held in 2022 and it was expected that there could be a Coronation which should be considered and budgeted for so that Poole Charter Trustees can determine how to mark these events.
  • A Charter Trustee expressed her extreme disappointment that there was nothing in the budget which allowed for other formal Remembrance Day Events to take place elsewhere in Poole eg Broadstone which has for decades had a parade which was supported by the Council, with attendance by Council Officers, provision of a wreath and that the resources for these events should be included in the budget.
  • Suggestion that some of the reserves were spent on helping the people of Poole recover from Covid.
  • A Charter Trustee explained that the Mayoral and Sheriff’s boards were normally updated every four to five years when there were sufficient names to complete a section of the panel.  It was suggested that until it was known where the Boards will be located that may be difficult.  In addition, it was suggested that the Mayor and Sheriff and incoming Mayor could identify special items that the reserves can be used for and then put to the Charter Trustees for support.
  • The calculation of staffing costs.  The Responsible Financial Officer reported that the costs to Poole Charter Trustees was a 40% split   
  • That the proposed freezing of the precept was welcomed.  Acknowledging the proposed budget for 2021-22 was for a full year of activity but that the impact of the pandemic was likely to continue during 2021-22 and there would not be a full year of activity.

·      Remembrance Services - A Charter Trustee referred to £4,500 that was included in the budget and asked for clarification on whether that included funding for other Remembrance Events or just the event in Poole Park.  He asked that if it was just for the event in Poole Park if a decision could be taken on whether funds for the other events could be identified. It was reported that the British Legion in Broadstone had been advised that they cannot organise these events anymore and if support was not forthcoming these parades would stop. The Responsible Financial Officer confirmed that the budget did not include funding for any other events.  He explained that if the Trustees wanted to fund additional services this year one suggestion would be to use some of the reserves and look to address the issue in the base budget next year. The other option was for the £1,400 base budget contribution to reserves to be rebadged as additional Remembrance Service budget which would not change the precept or Council Tax freeze but instead of contributing the £1,400 into reserves it could be directed to Remembrance Parades. A view that the focus of the Charter Trustees should be for the event in Poole Park.  A Charter Trustee outlined the costs associated with the event in Broadstone and the associated insurance issues.

In respect of the Remembrance Day Events eg in Broadstone Councillor Brooke moved that the £1420 contribution from reserves be moved to the other events contingency making that budget head £1920 to support other remembrance events.

Charter Trustees discussed the above including waiving the costs associated with such events whilst needing to be consistent across Poole.  The Honorary Clerk suggested that it be noted that the Charter Trustees ask the BCP Council to consider where it could waive fees for community-based remembrance events. He indicated that if such costs were waived at Broadstone there would be a number of other events across the BCP area, so it had to be considered on a wider basis.  It was highlighted that there was no need for BCP Council to charge its residents for them to be able to honour the dead in the way they have done for decades and the simplest way around this was for the Council to do the right thing and waive the fees knowing that if that takes time there was a reserve that could be used so that parades were not missed this year. 

Councillor Brooke withdrew his motion detailed above.

Richard Jones, Head of the Democratic Services reported that there was actual expenditure incurred for the Broadstone Road closures it was not just about the fee for the advert.  He suggested that a paper be brought back to the Charter Trustees on the road closures outlining the costs that were incurred.  The Head of Democratic Services reported that the Charter Trustees do raise a precept in the same way that other Parish and Town Councils do for that purpose and therefore the Charter Trustees were similar to those authorities and the paper could include the costs and the consequences. 

The submission of a paper as suggested above was proposed by the Mayor and Councillor Mike White.  Councillor Broadhead as Deputy Leader of the Council indicated he would raise this issue with the Council. Charter Trustees commented on the timeframe for the submission of the paper 


(a)          A report be submitted to the Charter Trustees on the costs and consequences associated with arrangements for Remembrance Day Events other than the event held in Poole Park and that such a report be submitted to the Charter Trustees at a meeting in June 2021 to enable such events to be arranged for 2021.

(b)          The draft budget for 2021/22 as set out in Appendix A to the report be approved.

(c)          The council tax requirement and precept of £121,920 be approved.

(d)          The Charter Trustees form a working party to identify how best to utilise reserves in excess of the recommended prudent level.

(e)          The Charter Trustees note the conclusion of the external audit of the 2019/20 Annual Governance and Accountability Return.

Voting: Agreed

5 Councillors voted against the decision at d above

The Mayor requested that Charter Trustees be asked for expressions of interest to serve on the Working Party.  The Mayor reported that key people that should be involved were the budget signatories, her as the Mayor, the deputy Mayor and Sheriff plus any interested Charter Trustees. 

Councillor Mike Brooke left the meeting at 18.02


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