Agenda item

2023/24 Budget Proposals for Services within the Remit of the Property, Highways & Transport Select Committee


The Chairman briefly introduced the item noting that the Committee’s comments should remain within the remit of the Property, Highways and Transport Cabinet Portfolio. Iain Watters, Head of Strategic and Operational Finance, was in attendance to present the report to the Committee. It was noted that the primary factors negatively impacting on the budget setting process were the very challenging economic times currently being experienced, with inflation above 10%, and the legacy impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was highlighted that high inflation levels drove up the cost of Council services in addition to impacting residents through an increased cost of living, which in turn drove up demand for some of the Council’s services. Officers also highlighted that within the remit of the Property, Highways and Transport Select Committee, the single biggest factor effecting the budget proposals was the fall in the funding settlement from Transport for London (TfL).


Members noted that the exceptional rates of inflation above 10% had not been seen for decades and the issues seen as a result of this were not unique to Hillingdon as a local authority. The Committee commended the balanced budget proposals in continuing to provide excellent services to residents under the Property, Highways and Transport portfolio and in finding savings whilst still investing in services for residents, notably through the Capital Programme and projects such as the West Drayton Leisure Centre.


The Committee were informed that inflation on the circa £11m operating budget for services within the remit of the Committee would result in an additional £1.5m in inflationary pressures in a year’s time. This demonstrated the scale of the impact that inflation rates were having on budgets. It was highlighted that there were savings proposals totalling £1.7m to mitigate the impact and that these savings were achieved through efficiencies and not through a reduction in the service offer for residents. The Committee sought to expand on the fees and charges element of the £1.7m in savings proposals, it was noted that these savings primarily related to the general increase to fees and charges of 30%, the amount that could be recovered from the highway network operators when roads require reinstating, and that the Council had an extensive portfolio of garage sites across the Borough which were let out to residents that afforded scope to make savings as across the board, revenue from fees and charges was close to half that of neighbouring boroughs. Members were encouraged by the fact that Hillingdon’s fees and charges remained cheaper for residents than in the surrounding boroughs. By way of reassurance, officers noted that increases in fees and charges were not targeted at services offered to vulnerable residents and were instead directed at more optional services.


The Committee discussed the uplift in fees and charges and noted that, whilst it was not ideal, it was necessary to catch up on what had been historically low fees and charges in Hillingdon whilst still offering value to residents, specifically when compared to neighbouring authorities in West London who were generating almost double the amount per resident in fees and charges. Members thanked officers for their hard work in bringing balanced budget proposals to the Select Committee in what were challenging times. The Committee delegated the drafting of the comments that would be submitted to Cabinet to the Democratic Services Officer in conjunction with the Chairman, and in consultation with the Labour Lead.


RESOLVED: That the Property, Highways & Transport Select Committee noted the budget projections contained in the report and delegated the Committee’s comments on the combined budget proposals to be drafted by the Democratic Services Officer in conjunction with the Chairman, and in consultation with the Opposition Lead.

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