Council budgets and spending

Medium Term Financial Planning

The Council's Medium Term Financial Strategy is the Council's five-year financial plan and provides a framework which enables the Council to effectively allocate its available financial resources to achieve its priority outcomes and objectives.

The strategy accounts for planned changes in income and expenditure and provides an outline of the Council's approach to meeting its statutory requirement and setting a balanced budget each year.

Government Policy is changing. By 2020 to 2021, Government intends to have fundamentally reformed the system for funding local government so that councils move to self-sufficiency. The 2017 Local Government Finance Settlement confirmed a four year Government funding agreement and confirmed that by 2020, Bexley's core grant will be almost zero and the amount that we have to spend on local services in the borough will be dependent on the income that we can raise locally. From 2020, Government will allow us to keep all income raised locally, Council Tax, Business Rates and Fees and Charges, to fund the services we provide.

The Council fully supports this move to self-sufficiency. We believe that this will give us greater control in terms of planning ahead and preparation for all these changes is well underway. Cutting small amounts from all budgets as we have done in the past is no longer an option. We want to ensure that we spend our money on the services that are important and make a difference to the people who live, work and visit Bexley.

Further information on the Council's approach to preparing for self-sufficiency is set out in Medium Term Financial Strategy (PDF, 300KB)  and the four-year Efficiency Plan (PDF, 238KB) and progress is reviewed through regular Financial Plans reports to Public Cabinet.

The latest update to the Medium Term Financial Strategy was reported to Public Cabinet in July 2019. Like the Council's other plans, the Strategy is reviewed annually to ensure it takes account of new developments and changes in Government policy. The next update will be published in November 2019.

Budget and Council Tax Setting

From October of each year, in addition to planning for the next five years, the focus turns to the more detailed work on setting the budget for the forthcoming year. The current financial climate is challenging but the statutory requirement to set a balanced budget remains.

The draft budget and resulting Council Tax level is developed with the Council's Corporate Leadership Team and Members over a six month period and agreed by Full Council in March each year.

At the meeting on 6 March 2019, the Council considered the report on financial plans for the year ahead and agreed the level of Council Tax for 2019 to 2020 (PDF, 3MB). This includes the agreed levels of fees and charges for 2019 to 2020 (PDF, 388KB).

Resource Management

The Council's Corporate Leadership Team and Members regularly review actual performance against planned budgets and take corrective action where required. Bexley operates a comprehensive resource monitoring process and summary reports are published at the end of each quarter during the year. These reports can be found with the reports for Overview and Scrutiny Committees.