Budget Question sent to Leader of Council – Updated with Reply

I sent the below email to Council Leader

Can you please provide total spending on PFI schemes, landfill tax, waste disposal, energy, vehicles and capital investment programme (per project if possible) for the years 2010,2011 and the councils prediction for 2012, 2013/15 including the future capital schemes the council has planned (bus station, eturia valley, competion Hanley ring road etc..)Can you provide a breakdown of how the £5m investment will be split between different schemes?

After hearing nothing I chased the issue up, only to then received a reply from the FOI department? Surely the Leader of the Council didn’t forward my email to FOI for a reply? Not being too happy with prospect of waiting at least 20 days for FOI department to reply,  I resent the question, this time the Leader of the Council replied promptly.

Dear Mr NorrisThank you for your e-mail.The Finance Team are looking at the first part of your request. However, with regards to the £5m, no indicative allocation has been made across any initiatives. This consideration and prioritisation will form part of the deliberations at all City Council Budget Scrutiny Committees in December.Finance will respond to you more fully in due course.RegardsCouncillor Mohammed Pervez.

Which just leaves the question, Why is the Council proposing to cut £5million from the budget if no costing or allocations have been made on the schemes the Council propose to invest in?

I have now received the reply the £5million is being allocated during Scrutiny committees

Dear Mr Norris,

 I do apologise for the delay in responding to your request. My team and I have had a lot of queries and requests for clarifications since the launch of the budget on 21st November 2011. Some of the information you have requested particularly around the £5m investment question and allocations is now in the public domain for formal consultation with the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee process for December.

 As you will see from these reports the Leader and Cabinet have generated a considerable number of ideas for both revenue and capital investment across the strategic themes of the Mandate for Change. Cabinet believe that these initiatives will help to make Stoke-on-Trent a great working City and are seeking views on prioritisation. As we all know resources are very limited and very difficult choices and decisions need to be made for the future benefit of the City and to set a legal and robust budget for 2012/13. Cabinet are keen to invest in the right ‘things’ that will have a positive impact and help to improve the economic prosperity of the City. I’m sure any comments you have on the content of these reports would be most welcomed.

We have calculated that the overall expenditure pressure for 2012/13 will be circa £11m – a brief analysis of this was contained within the consultation document and I think you were focusing on our estimate of £5m for various contractual commitments, obligations and inflationary pressures. With regards to the specific elements I would make the following comments.

 PFI Schemes

A significant proportion of our additional cost pressures relate to PFI Schemes with inflation currently being so high for example.  The total estimated increase from 2011/12 to 2012/13 is £1.1m

Waste Disposal

This relates to the contract in respect of the provision and maintenance of the Hanford waste to energy plant. The total estimated increase from 2011/12 to 2012/13 is £0.2m

 Landfill Tax

 I am unable to provide detailed information on total values on landfill tax due to issues around diverted waste and contractual disputes regarding the amount charged to the city council. This information is considered to be commercially sensitive until the issues are formally resolved. What I can confirm though is the tax increase per tonne that demonstrates the pressure on the City Council. In 2009/10 £40 per tonne, 10/11 £48 per tonne (20% increase), 11/12 £56 per tonne (16.7% increase) 12/13 £64 per tonne (14.3% increase). As you can see these are considerable unavoidable increases.  

 Energy Costs

Total energy costs for the financial year 2010/11 were £3.70m. The budget for 2012/13 is estimated to be £4.5m this includes an expenditure pressures of £1.1m based upon a 30% increase in prices but offset by a rationalisation of buildings and a targeted programme to try to reduce energy consumption.

Vehicles

Included in the expenditure pressures for 2012/13 is £0.350m for a 17.9% increase in the price of vehicle fuel. Total costs for the financial year 2010/11 were £1.9m. 

Capital Investment

On the 8th September 2011, the City Council approved the restated capital programme for 2011/12. The report submitted, which can be accessed using the link below, set out the rationale behind the changes that had been made to the Programme as a result of challenges and opportunities that had arisen since the budget had been set and it also reassured Elected Members that, despite the challenges identified, officers had been able to restructure projects to ensure that the level of investment in 2011/12 remained at a similar level. Indicative figures for 2012/13 – 2014/15 are also provided in the report.

 Capital Programme 2011/12

The actual outturn for 2010/11 can be seen in the attached spreadsheet

 Supplies and Services etc.

The impact of Landfill Tax and all the other inflationary/unavoidable pressures on City Council service delivery is estimated to be £2.1m.

 Hope this is ok – if you wish to discuss any aspect or want further clarification in the areas that are not commercially sensitive then please give me a ring.

 Thanks,

 Pete

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