Agenda item


Council is asked to approve the 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27.


  • Leader’s Statement (Budget) - to be appended to the minutes.


There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions and/or make comments.



Before presenting the report and making his statement, the Leader noted that the ‘No One Left Behind’ video - (accessible using this link: - set out the context of the budget and demonstrated the work underway across the county to meet the Council’s guiding principle. He noted that the video had received positive feedback and he credited the work of an apprentice at the Council, for their work in producing it.


The Leader presented the 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27 and made a statement in support of the proposed budget. A copy of the Leader’s statement is attached as Appendix A.


Each of the Minority Group Leaders (Nick Darby, Will Forster, Robert Evans and Jonathan Essex) were invited to speak on the budget proposals.


Key points made by Nick Darby were that:


·         Noted the context of the budget which called for a 4.99% Council Tax increase, despite inflation moving towards 7%, increasing energy costs and the National Insurance increase.

·         Stressed that additional Council Tax bands were needed so those with high value properties pay more, the Council must press for a change in legislation so it could address poverty and deprivation.

·         Noted that the Council needed efficiencies led through the Twin Track approach because it had been inefficient in the past and working efficiently going forward and putting residents first was what was needed.

·         Noted the contrast between the Council’s ambitious projects to ensure that no one is left behind and the reality of delivering that ambition, noting the following examples.

·         The new IT system to cover payroll and HR, to which the Resources and Performance Select Committee in October 2020 recommended that assurances be put in place to monitor risks and progress, since then the system had faced delays and cost the taxpayer an extra £3.2 million which could have been avoided with robust programme management.

·         The Agile Office Programme (AOP) had seen its estimated annual cost savings reduce from £3 million to £2.2 million a year - he sought greater collaboration on its progress.

·         The Council’s existing offices were not fit for purpose with £39 million needed in repair work, of that £15 million was for Quadrant Court.

·         The Council had a deliberate policy on the neglect of its property assets, whilst he welcomed the intended £2 million spend on repairs on Surrey’s eight children’s homes, the £250,000 cost per home was due to years of neglect.

·         The Council must take immediate action to prioritise its outstanding repair work across its properties, to stop the neglect and further costs to residents. 

·         Welcomed the intended investment in new extra care homes, supported living homes, children's homes and extra housing for those with autism, but urged that those projects must be managed properly and collaboratively.

·         Welcomed the additional funding for mental health but was concerned that it was announced last-minute with little planning.

·         Noted concern in the Council’s borrowing costs which must be managed efficiently, whilst the costs would be used to fund flood defences and the property projects mentioned, the costs were expected to reach £80 million a year in the future - adding 6 to 8% on Council Tax bills.

·         That Your Fund Surrey had cost £100 million in borrowed money, had faced delays, frustrated applicants and would cost the taxpayer; the Council’s borrowing costs must be reviewed to ensure that money is targeted and spent on the most disadvantaged, reversing vital services cut to achieve efficiencies. 

·         Regarding the Twin Track approach, firstly it was proposed that the number of those receiving the Home To School Transport service would be reduced and those supplying the service would be squeezed; secondly fees and charges would be increased such as the annual parking permit charges.

·         The Equality Impact Assessments included at the end of the budget report referenced several groups who might be affected by the multiple efficiencies in the budget including adults of all ages with physical and learning difficulties, children and young people including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), older adults and their carers and women particularly in areas where they make up the majority of the frontline workforce.

·         Stressed that the Council must be efficient, pay attention to detail and not waste residents’ money, it must deliver on its ambitions and projects.


Key points made by Will Forster were that:


·         The budget failed Surrey’s residents for three reasons; it did not meet its own target of ensuring that no one is left behind.

·         Firstly on Council Tax, the budget if approved would mean that Surrey’s residents would pay twice for the social care reforms announced by the Government last year as a result of the combination of the 4.99% increase in Surrey’s Council Tax and the 1.25% rise in National Insurance.

·         The increase breaks the Conservative Party’s manifesto promise not to raise taxes and would mean that hard-pressed families and small businesses already facing a cost of living crisis would be left paying more tax annually. 

·         That one in four Surrey households would not be eligible for the Government's proposed Council Tax rebate.

·         The rise this year was due to last year’s rise being deferred until after the 2021 County Council elections.

·         The increase in Council Tax was meant to fund Adult Social Care (ASC), yet there was a £43 million cut to ASC and a consultation had recently closed on the closure of eight Council run care homes.

·         Secondly on waste and inefficiency, the responses under item 7 highlighted that nearly £2 million a year was spent on Communications and PR, nearly £30 million a year is spent on agency and temporary staff and 1,166 staff earn over £50,000 a year.

·         The Council was more interested in style over substance and was a top-heavy organisation, money should be spent on crucial services for the most vulnerable which had been cut such as ASC as noted earlier and £7.8 million in efficiencies in Children's Services which was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.

·         The budget relied on large investment projects yet the Council had a poor track record, as uncovered at the last Council meeting nearly £50 million had been lost to investments.

·         The Council had a poor record on delivery, noting the £3 million overspend on the new IT system and the Eco Park which was years behind schedule.

·         Thirdly on the level of reserves, that an average resident would find it appalling that the Council had £200 million in reserves yet Council Tax was increasing by nearly 5%.

·         Some of the reserves should have been used to ease the burden of residents already facing a cost of living crisis, they should be used to invest in the repairing of Surrey’s roads and in supporting vulnerable residents such as those with SEND; so that money is saved in the long-term.


Key points made by Robert Evans were that:


·         Noted that whilst it was good to meet in person unlike this time last year during the height of the pandemic, it was regrettable that the Government has not taken action to give councils the flexibility in how they conduct their business.

·         Stated that the Leader noted last year that Surrey was in a stable financial position so it did not need to increase Council Tax by the maximum amount and raised it by 2.5% instead, however the Leader’s proposed budget this year sets out a 4.99% rise which suggested that the Council’s financial position was not as stable.

·         If the lower Council Tax increase last year was a tactic in advance of the 2021 County Council elections, it failed as the Conservative Party lost fourteen seats.

·         That no one wants to pay more taxes than necessary, however it was the Council’s duty to provide its residents with reliable services.

·         Noted the upcoming Spelthorne Borough Council by-election in Stanwell North where the feedback from residents was threefold: residents were appalled at the behaviour of the Government and Prime Minister, residents were worried about the cost of living crisis, and lastly residents were unsatisfied with the state of the roads and inadequate quality of repairs and the poor public transport provision.

·         There was nothing in the budget that highlighted that the Council was on the side of its residents, noting that the closure of the local fire station in Stanwell, the reduction in the number of firefighters across the county, the closures of fire stations at night and the reduction in crewing levels, did not make Surrey safer.

·         The projected £0.9 million increase in the budget for the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) would be lost to inflation.

·         Requested the Leader’s guarantee that the number of firefighters would not be further reduced nor that fire stations would be closed at night.

·         The increase in the budget for ASC was inadequate, despite the twelve years of austerity nationally, £100 million of the Council’s £150,000 million in reserves could be spent on services rather than residents facing cutbacks.   

·         The efficiencies in the budget totalled £81 million on top of the £240 million made since 2018, whilst some efficiencies were due to modernisation, the majority were cuts.

·         The Council would have an extra half a billion pounds to spend on making a difference to its residents - totalling up the money wasted to inefficiencies and its reserves as well as the cuts imposed on Surrey by the Government.

·         Despite Surrey being a relatively wealthy county and the levelling up agenda, highlighted the inadequate Council Tax rebates offered by the Government, the Government must address how unfair the Council Tax system is and the Leader could work with Surrey’s eleven MPs to lobby the Government. 

·         The current Council Tax system benefited those in more valuable properties, new bands beyond G and H were needed.

·         The budget was a missed opportunity to address the Council Tax system and to redistribute wealth, and left residents behind.


Key points made by Jonathan Essex were that:


·         Welcomed the £8 million additional funding on mental health as recommended by the Council’s Mental Health Task Group.

·         Welcomed the Council’s call for a strategy to address child poverty which highlighted the growing inequalities across the county, but that was not reflected in the budget despite the higher cost of living, food and energy prices, the removal of the Universal Credit uplift and the increase in National Insurance.

·         That it was positive that the budget continued to fill the gap created by the Council over the last decade in failing to provide sufficient school places for those with SEND in Surrey and commended the No Wrong Door model in the prevention of new children entering care.

·         Questioned how the budget matched the commitment of no one is left behind - noting the ‘inadequate’ rating by Ofsted of the Children’s Services in 2018 - and that half of Surrey’s children in care were placed outside of the county in independently run children’s homes and via foster care agencies.

·         Suggested that the Council should match the pay of foster carers in Surrey with that of neighbouring authorities.

·         Many children and young adults were left behind due to Covid-19 and had insufficient support for the past few years, the Council must reassess its support.

·         The Council must address its backlogs service-wide.

·         Questioned why Surrey's public health funding per head was lower than other counties, despite the fact that Surrey residents consulted on the budget said that they wanted more spending on preventative measures and the Leader had called for change to ensure that no one is left behind.

·         The Council must strengthen its investment in prevention and early intervention across all services, including Children’s Services and Public Health.

·         Suggested that the new Twin Track approach of joined-up thinking in the budget could be applied to Public Health investment, to Green Futures direct investment in Surrey’s Pension Fund, to road safety transforming local transport provision across Surrey, to including care in the Home to School Transport provision and to extending the core bus service including coinciding the new bus service to Reigate with that to Woodhatch Place.

·         The Council needed to do more, noted that his amendment outlined how it could do so through utilising reserves and delivering more for residents.


Jonathan Essex moved an amendment, presenting the following recommended alternative budget proposals (included in the supplementary agenda), which was formally seconded by Catherine Baart. This was:




Council is asked to approve the following budget proposals:


1.    That a Gap Analysis study be undertaken to identify additional evidence to deliver Surrey’s Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) ambitions for modal shift.

Budget commitment: £100k to fund gap-analysis, modelling modal shift, energy use and infrastructure investment needs to decarbonise transport in Surrey.


2.    That a Climate Citizens’ Forum be established to explore options to reduce demand and damage from road transport in Surrey. A Climate Citizens’ Forum to explore options to reduce demand and damage from road transport in Surrey.

Budget commitment: £50k to fund participation process to strengthen strategic response to deliver LTP4 and overall road transport decarbonisation in Surrey.


3.    That research be undertaken to establish a baseline to enable a coordinated action-plan to target energy efficient retrofit and address fuel poverty across all Surrey homes.

Budget commitment: £217k to fund 2 FTE – a PS11 manager and a PS10 officer (£117K) and a consultancy support (up to £100K) for a baseline study to kick-start a coordinated plan for energy-retrofit of Surrey homes.


4.    That the scope of the additional £6.5 million in the budget envelope for Mental Health be widened to target early interventions to prevent and address child poverty.

Budget commitment:In addition to the £8 million included in the budget for Mental Health, add a further £8 million, doubling the size of the earmarked fund. Extend the remit of this £16 million allocation to include Public Health and Child Poverty, as follows:


§  Reverse the recent reduction in numbers of children’s centres and universal youth services;

§  Provision of funding to deliver the recently published child poverty strategy; and

§  Enhance public health delivery across Surrey.


5.    That the first year funding for Surrey’s Bus Back Better plans be guaranteed.

Budget commitment: guarantee first year funding for Bus Back Better in Surrey County Council’s BSIP bid to central government. £17.7m revenue to be met from reserves and £10m capital to be met from reprioritising the Capital Pipeline.


Table 1. Summary of budget proposals to be funded from reserves




revenue budget impact

 1.Transport: Gap Analysis


2.Transport: Climate Citizens’ Forum


3. Homes: Baseline Study


4. Prevention and Early Intervention: Child poverty and Public Health


5.Transport: guarantee Bus Back Better funding

Up to £17,674,000


In support of his amendment, Jonathan Essex made the following points:


·         Highlighted that the amendment set out a plan for how the Council might deliver sufficient decarbonisation of Surrey's transport and homes, the level of ambition depended on funding which was vital to ensure that no one is left behind. 

·         The budget did not include specific plans on what was needed to transform transport or housing in Surrey which combined accounted for two thirds of Surrey’s climate footprint.  

·         Noted that the Council had consulted on the draft Surrey Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) but had not yet identified the level of changes needed across Surrey to ensure that the Council would meet its climate targets. 

·         Residents responded to the budget consultation calling for more local participation in decision-making and the proposed Climate Citizens’ Forum was a response to that, having a better understanding of what it would take for behaviour change in transport would help ensure that investments in infrastructure and bus routes would deliver on their aims. 

·         Whilst the Council had contracted Action Surrey who had funded the retrofit of 523 homes, but there was no overall plan to decarbonise Surrey’s homes.  

·         Research in 2020 showed that 62% of all Surrey's homes had an energy ranking of 'D’ or worse and the Government said that all should be ranked C by 2035 and all those in fuel poverty households by 2030 - equivalent to 212,000 homes. 

·         The amendment called on the Council to commission a study to drive forward a plan of how the Council would decarbonise housing such as through home improvements, reducing the energy bill by £500 of an average home.

·         The budget stressed the need to improve people's health and wellbeing but Surrey received less public health grant per head than elsewhere - 15% less than in 2014 - and the Council does not top that up.  

·         The amendment sought to address that public health grant shortfall by proposing £8 million to be placed in a reserve budget alongside the commitment to mental health, to jointly deliver public and mental health and the early intervention of Children's Services.  

·         That Surrey needed to ‘Bus Back Better’ regardless of whether the Government fully funds the Council’s bid to transform bus travel or not.

·         To deliver the Council’s current ambitions the Council needed new thinking - such as the Leader’s suggestion last year for the roll out of free bus travel for all those aged under 25 years old - in order to deliver transformation and a sustainable funding model for buses in the longer-term. 

·         Meeting the Council’s ambitions would require significant upfront investment reflected in the Council’s bid for Government funding, and therefore the amendment included proposals to strengthen the Council's Green Futures programme and to widen the Council’s focus on prevention. 

·         Noting the uncertainty of whether buses, home retrofitting, child poverty or mental health would receive Government funding, the amendment sought to ensure that all areas could be progressed together.  


As seconder to the amendment, Catherine Baart made the following points:


·         Noted that the proposed amendment aligned with the Council’s objective of no one left behind and supported the Greener Futures agenda especially the Council’s climate change targets, through decarbonising transport.  

·         It was vital for the Council to direct sources of funding for transport and infrastructure more effectively.

·         The response to the budget survey showed that residents wanted a more active role in local decision-making and the Climate Citizens’ Forum would provide a new and informal approach to achieve that as well as behaviour change.

·         The house retrofit part of the budget amendment would provide a baseline to develop a roadmap of what needed to be done and the need to decarbonise heating at scale was more pressing in light of the high energy prices.  

·         Retrofitting homes was vital to prevent Surrey residents being left behind, through tackling health inequality and helping families struggling with fuel poverty. 

·         The fourth part of the budget amendment was the response to the issue that Surrey received a small amount of public health spend per head than other comparable counties and the Council did not top up that spend unlike other counties.

·         Voting for the amendment would demonstrate that the Council was committed to tackling health inequality in Surrey as investment now would avoid future costs. 

·         Voting for the amendment to guarantee spending on the Council's first year plans for buses would demonstrate that the Council was serious about public transport for all - highlighting Scotland’s recent introduction of free bus travel for under 22 year olds.  

·         The proposed amendment focused on prevention to ensure that no one is left behind, responding to residents who said that they wanted more investment in preventative services. 


The Leader of the Council spoke on the amendment, making the following points:

·         Noted that despite critical comments on the budget from the opposition groups, only the Green Party Group proposed an amendment.

·         Noted disappointment that the amendment was not taken through the select committee system and had not involved the Cabinet.

·         Regarding the first proposal there was no need to commission a further study as the Council had collated information, the Surrey Transport Plan report that went to the Cabinet in June 2021 had identified the work that was underway and pulled together the Greener Futures Climate Change Delivery Plan, the work on electric vehicle charging infrastructure and the Council’s electric fleet, the Bus Service Improvement Plan, the Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plans (LCWIPs) and the Council’s partnership with the Boroughs and District Councils on placemaking.

·         Regarding the second proposal in relation to a proposed Climate Citizens’ Forum, another forum was not needed as through the work of the Greener Futures Board, the Council was engaging with a number of organisations, businesses and residents across the county to understand their concerns.

·         Similarly, the Surrey Climate Change Commission had wide engagement and the once approved the LTP4 would go out for a further targeted consultation.

·         Regarding the third proposal on energy retrofitting - some of that information was included in the responses under item 7 - the Greener Futures Climate Change Delivery Plan set out targets such as 20% of fuel poor homes would be decarbonised by 2025.

·         Additional Government funding would be vital to accelerate decarbonisation alongside the Greener Homes Grant and the Home Upgrade Grant; and three additional officers had been funded through the Council’s Transformation Fund as well as £150,000 in funding to strategically map fuel poor and off-gas homes.

·         The Council would look to identify unregistered private landlords and help the Borough and District Councils to enforce the minimum energy efficiency standards.

·         Regarding the fourth proposal on child poverty, highlighted the recent Cabinet report on a child poverty strategy which set out a collaborative approach and signposted the issues and set up a process for submission of business cases on future projects and scaling up community-led initiatives.

·         That children's youth provision delivered via third parties had been effective and the reorganisation of children's centres and the creation of early help and family resilience services had been effective; therefore an additional £6.5 million as proposed was not needed.

·         Opposed the five proposals which were all to be funded from reserves as the Council's reserves were not excessive, £25.7 million coming out of reserves would see a 17% reduction in those available balances over the first five years of the Medium-Term Financial Strategy which was unacceptable.

Four Members made the following points on the amendment:


·         The Council was three years into its climate emergency, yet the budget did not reflect that emergency.

·         Noted that 40% of Surrey’s 6.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions came from transport, Surrey was an outlier due to more roads and cars.

·         That the draft LTP4 was an ambitious plan and could deliver positive change such as cutting carbon emissions yet did not believe that the LTP4 or the Greener Futures Climate Change Delivery Plan would bring about the required behavioural change.

·         The £100,000 suggested to fund a gap analysis was essential to understand the nature of the problem.

·         Ensuring the behavioural change was a large challenge and supported the suggestion of setting up a Climate Citizens’ Forum.

·         The second largest driver of carbon emissions was Surrey’s homes which generated 28% of that 6.6 million tonnes each year, only 600 homes had been upgraded out of 30,000 to be done by 2030.

·         Noted disappointment as Bus Back Better was hoped to deliver better services yet was unsure whether Surrey would receive any or adequate funding.

·         That the Council needed to find a way to reduce local traffic, 90% of journeys could be accommodated by other means of transport and that required behavioural change which the amendment sought to address.

·         That rather than some of the Borough and District Councils like Runnymede Borough Council having to cut school bus services, the Council should accelerate the provision of multi-modal transport with buses central to that.

·         Emphasised the importance of funding across Surrey - particularly north Surrey - to enable the independence across the generations such as through internet accessibility - particularly north Surrey - which consistently had minimal Government funding.

·         That buses were critical to decarbonising Surrey and the service provision needed to be increased.

·         Noted a negative testimony of a resident regarding their social housing.

·         Moving from 58 family centres to 22 was a cost-cutting decision and the Council must focus on those most in need through prevention and would continue to work with the local Borough Council and other authorities to try to gain funding.

·         Referred to the ‘No One Left Behind’ video introduced by the Leader which showed the work of local community foodbanks vital during the pandemic and would continue to be as a result of the increased cost of living.  

·         Fuel cost rises were affected by the lack of insulation and other climate change measures that the budget did not address and the amendment could.

·         Surrey had many wealthy areas that were often bordering areas of deprivation.

·         Unlike many of the Borough and District Councils, the Council had reserves that it could use to great effect.


Robert Hughes raised a point of order under Standing Order 22, procedural motion: “that the question be now put”.


In response, the Chair highlighted that no other Members had requested to speak so she asked the proposer of the amendment to respond.


The Chair asked Jonathan Essex, as proposer of the amendment to conclude the debate:


·         That the usage of foodbanks was an example of those already left behind.

·         Stressed that early intervention and prevention was needed especially as a result of the pandemic, the amendment called for a review of early intervention for children, early years and teenagers; noting that mental health issues were likely a reflection of the lack of early intervention.

·         Welcomed the news that the Council was planning to do a baseline study to locate the fuel poor houses in Surrey and hoped that once completed all houses would be reviewed.

·         Contrary to the Leader’s comment that the Council did not have to spend £25.7 million from the reserves, some of that figure might be required if Surrey was not given any funding for Bus Back Better.

·         That the amendment signalled that the Government must release funding so councils could progress their work on transforming bus services.

·         The amendment called for a transformation in buses and other areas listed; the Council needed to be more entrepreneurial in its approach to address the challenge of buses and needed adequate resources. 


The amendment was put to the vote with 31 Members voting For, 43 voting Against and 2 Abstentions.


The following Members voted for it:


Catherine Baart, John Beckett, Amanda Boote, Stephen Cooksey, Colin Cross, Nick Darby, Fiona Davidson, Jonathan Essex, Robert Evans, Chris Farr, Paul Follows, Will Forster, Angela Goodwin, Robert King, Eber Kington, Andy MacLeod, Ernest Mallett MBE, Michaela Martin, Jan Mason, Steven McCormick, Julia McShane, Carla Morson, George Potter, Catherine Powell, Penny Rivers, John Robini, Joanne Sexton, Lance Spencer, Liz Townsend, Hazel Watson, Fiona White.


The following Members voted against it:


Maureen Attewell, Ayesha Azad, Steve Bax, Jordan Beech, Luke Bennett, Liz Bowes, Natalie Bramhall, Helyn Clack, Clare Curran, Paul Deach, Kevin Deanus, John Furey, Matt Furniss, Tim Hall, David Harmer, Edward Hawkins, Marisa Heath, Trefor Hogg, Robert Hughes, Jonathan Hulley, Saj Hussain, Frank Kelly, Riasat Khan, Rachael Lake, Victor Lewanski, David Lewis (Cobham), David Lewis (Camberley West), Scott Lewis, Andy Lynch, Cameron McIntosh, Sinead Mooney, Mark Nuti, John O’Reilly, Tim Oliver, Rebecca Paul, Becky Rush, Tony Samuels, Lesley Steeds, Mark Sugden, Richard Tear, Denise Turner-Stewart, Jeremy Webster, Keith Witham.

The following Members abstained:


Nick Harrison, Chris Townsend.


Therefore it was RESOLVED that:


The amendment was lost.


Returning to the original budget proposal and recommendations as published in the agenda, ten Members spoke on it:


·           Noted that it was uncharacteristic that the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party were supporting reductions in Council Tax and that it was delusional to believe that they were the supporters of the Council taxpayer. 

·           That the opposition groups had argued for more spending yet had not said how that would be funded.

·           That the opposition groups had not made it clear what they were objecting to, questioned whether it was the 0.99% increase for inflation and paying the living wage or the 3% for ASC precept, or the 1% increase for mental health.

·           That the budget was credible and would deliver for Surrey’s residents, leaving no one behind.

·           Recognised the need to some extent for budget cuts due to the continued inadequate funding from Government, and the Council’s history of financing and its over-cautious approach to reserves.

·           Noted concern on the impact on Children's Services and care services due to the Council’s cuts to its budget annually, referred to reducing the demand concerning Looked After Children through new practice models.

·           Had seen little evidence of early intervention being achieved in adults and children's care despite dedicated funding annually. 

·           Welcomed the plans for additional places for children with SEND, however a lot of those places had yet to be delivered and there was a reliance on increasing the use of foster carers.

·           Highlighted the high cost of agency staff as asked under item 7 and noted the difficulty in reducing those costs.

·           That taxation had been increased through the backdoor with increases at local government level contrary to the national promise by the Conservative Party to cut taxes.

·           Highlighted that if the Council did not deliver on what it has outlined in the budget, it would not make those savings nor carry out its functions.

·           That over the past seventeen years the Council had built only seven extra care homes yet its aim was to build 725 houses, once built the Council could save between £20 and £36 million a year.

·           Questioned the no one is left behind rhetoric, noting a divisional example where in West Molesey over Christmas in conjunction with a local vicar, had faced obstruction from the Council in housing three rough sleepers in a Council-owned disused building.

·           Noted that since 2018, the Council’s Transformation Programme had delivered £240 million in efficiencies, yet Members from the opposition groups failed to recognise that through that work and financial management the Council had built a strong financial base to deliver its services.

·           That the Council had built back depleted reserves and undertaken investment all at the same time as reducing financial risk and delivering service improvement.

·           That the Conservative Party administration had continued to act responsibly with taxpayers' money delivering services efficiently.

·           That the Council’s financial resilience was evident through the pandemic where services continued to be delivered and staff worked tirelessly to protect and support Surrey’s communities and businesses.

·           That the Council recognised the financial pressures faced by many and that the health and wellbeing of Surrey’s residents was of paramount importance, the proposed 4.99% increase in Council Tax would be invested in supporting vulnerable residents.

·           Commended the ambition of no one is left behind in the Community Vision for Surrey in 2030 but noted concerns in whether the Council’s actions and budget would meet that ambition.

·           Noted the cynicism in politics due to the contradiction between what politicians say and what they do and questioned how the Council was matching its words with its actions.

·           Having asked at question at the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee on what the £13.8 million of proposed efficiencies in that directorate would mean, the Equalities Impact Assessments in the budget highlighted the multitude of groups affected. 

·           That the negative impact cited in respect of children and young people was the reduction of services to those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) therefore having a more severe impact on children from lower income households.

·           Noted that the Disabled Children's Partnership had undertaken an investigation which showed that Surrey was ranked as the worst area in England in real term cuts to disabled children's services between 2015-2020 with cuts of £7.8 million.

·           Noted an example of lived experience from a local resident who fostered children with disabilities and complex health problems, who had explained that disabled children in Surrey wait months for assessments and equipment.

·           Noted testimonies from parents about the negative consequences of implementing efficiencies in Home to School Transport for SEND children, in one case a child lost a full year of schooling.

·           That such situations whilst not intentional, happened too frequently and in relation to the budget questioned how committed the Council was to no one is left behind.

·           Supported the budget and the Capital Programme; and a study of the highways, transport and infrastructure projects demonstrated a commitment to spend on projects and delivered on the Council’s promise to prioritise infrastructure plans to meet the needs of residents and to enable the Greener Futures Climate Change Delivery Plan.

·           That the key capital spending commitment of £125 million this financial year towards highways, transport and environment included the funding of £4 million towards the River Thames Scheme and £16.1 million for the A320 north of Woking and Junction 11 of M25.

·           That £43.8 million over a five-year period would be used to fund the A320 north of Woking and Junction 11 of M25 that would benefit local residents and looked forward to working with the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure.

·           Emphasised that the Council was delivering key infrastructure projects for the residents of north-west Surrey.

·           Welcomed the additional £1.5 million in funding to deliver the Farnham town centre infrastructure programme, asked Members who represented Farnham to back the budget and the investment in the town centre.

·           Highlighted that all Members were Corporate Parents, the Council was committed to giving children and young people in Surrey’s care the best opportunities in life after having faced negative experiences.

·           That the Council had a duty of care to children's home staff and foster carers and it was positive to see money being put aside to address the long-term lack of maintenance in Surrey’s children's homes and minimal disruption would be vital.

·           Noted that the Fostering Network’s ‘State of the Nation's Foster Care 2021report’ stated that 44% of foster carers reported deterioration in their mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

·           Questioned recent efficiencies as during the pandemic Surrey's provision of transport for foster carers to contact with birth parents was suspended, that suspension had been made permanent and was costly to those affected; that decision needed to be revisited.  

·           That the Council must support Surrey’s foster carers, the cost of independent foster care provision would be approximately £30,000 more per child per year compared to £4,000 for the cost of transport.

·           That more foster carers in Surrey were needed, Surrey was significantly below the national average for in-house places and significantly above the national average for the number of its Looked After Children out of the county.

·           That efficiencies in Children’s Services do not cover the coming pressures, efficiencies were not met last year and around £13 million of efficiencies were likely not to be met this year due to trying to bring back children and young people who had been sent out of the county to receive care which costed a large amount of money over many years.  

·           That the Council did not have the facilities such as mainstream schools and staff or adequately run children’s homes in some cases, to bring those children and young people back into the county.

·           That the budget included an alarming 15% reduction in services for children Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), the budget was leaving its most vulnerable children behind and the Leader needed to address that immediately.

·           Noted that all council budgets were required to balance by law and the key issue was the quality of the budget reductions to offset the pressures on salaries inflation.

·           That the budget reductions totalled £46 million, £5 million more than the current year whilst the directorates were expecting to miss their targets by £8 million.

·           Regarding the achievability of the efficiencies, only £6 million were rated green and £11 million were rated red or difficult to deliver.

·           That having allowed for inflation and demand increases of £24 million in ASC, the Council was proposing to offset by savings and commissioning reviews of packages and better purchasing techniques; was doubtful of making £9 million in efficiencies after having made savings year after year.

·           Noted the reoccurrence of the efficiencies needed in the Resolution of Continuing Health Care disputes, which was £2.5 million for 2022/23.

·         That there were £14 million in savings for Children, Families and Lifelong Learning of which half were rated as red.

·         The Council recognised the £6 million in pressures due to the increased numbers of Looked After Children and inflation, yet offset that with £6 million in savings nearly all rated red.

·         That the Council would be judged by reversing the Ofsted ‘inadequate’ rating in Children’s Services and responded to the Leader’s challenge of providing an alternative, that the £4 million annual spend for Your Fund Surrey could be used to support the Council’s vulnerable children.

·         Regarding SEND, it was questionable that despite the Council facing £32 million in deficit this year, it was on track to deliver a balanced position.

·         That the budget was not credible as whilst it was probable that there were sufficient contingencies to achieve a balanced outcome in the current year, the savings needed in some critical services were unachievable or unacceptable.

·         That the Eco Park remained a substantial risk in the budget, the Council had suspended £10 million in Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits in the budget pending completion of the Eco Park which was started in 1999; having received £137 million PFI credits so far, if the project was not delivered the Council was liable to repay some or the entire PFI grant received to date.

·           Noted the scaremongering over ten years ago by the opposition groups at the time concerning one quarter of the fifty libraries in Surrey to close, currently there were over fifty libraries in Surrey thanks to previous Conservative Party administrations finding innovative ways to deliver more services to residents.

·           Praised the work of the innovative Your Fund Surrey through which dozens of local community projects were coming through for consideration, many of which might not have had a chance to receive funding from elsewhere.

·           Welcomed the financial support of a grant of over £500,000 that the Council was giving to its Citizens Advice charities across the county.


The meeting was adjourned at 12.13 pm to resolve technical issues concerning the microphones.


The meeting was resumed at 12.20 pm.


The Leader raised a point of order under Standing Order 22, procedural motion: “that the question be now put”, which was seconded by the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources and over ten Members stood in support of the procedural motion.


The Chair called for the meeting to be adjourned for lunch to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officer and to resolve the reoccurring technical issues concerning the microphones.


The meeting was adjourned for lunch at 12.25 pm.


Chris Farr left the meeting.


The meeting was resumed at 13.08 pm. 


The Chair explained that the microphone system had been restored and that following a discussion with the Leader and the Minority Group Leaders, the Leader had rescinded his procedural motion. She noted that the agenda order would be changed as following the conclusion of items 5 and 6, items 9 to 16 would be taken first as they required the Council’s approval, before returning to items 7 and 8. 


Continuing the debate on the original budget proposal and recommendations as published in the agenda, five Members spoke on it:


·           Questioned what the point was of the debate with Members of the Conservative Party praising the budget and the opposition groups challenging and posing amendments to the budget, votes would then be made on party lines.

·           Stressed that politics was not a game, it was about people’s lives and it was not credible and was dishonest to say that no one is left behind.

·           Noted a divisional example of parents of young children who had been suffering since the Boxgrove Children's Centre was closed three years ago.

·           Highlighted the need to have social care and the problems of poverty, hunger and inexcusable wait times for disabled adults and children seeking diagnoses or support; short-term cuts by the Council were more costly longer-term.

·           Highlighted the empty Debenhams owned by the Council in Winchester which was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

·           Highlighted that Woodhatch Place was expensive, largely empty of staff and was not fit for purpose.

·           That despite Members and select committees frequently pointing out the problems and ways to do things better, the Conservative Party voted down other voices. 

·           Questioned what motivated the Members of the Conservative Party, noting their record of cuts to services, the mismanagement of taxpayers' money and empty slogans such as no one is left behind; appearance was valued over substance.

·           Highlighted the importance of investing to save, hoping that the Council would implement a greater extent in the coming financial year and changed the way it operated particularly concerning the highways.

·           That a lack of investment had resulted in more revenue expenditure being incurred concerning two highways examples: the A24 in South Leatherhead near Givons Grove and the A24 near Dorking railway station which had multiple surface dressings and a partial re-surfacing. 

·           That despite the Leader’s focus on the aspiration that no one is left behind, due to increases in energy prices and inflation it was inevitable that many children would suffer this financial year and would be left behind.

·           Noted personal experiences of working with the Council’s social services.

·           Responded to a previous comment made by another Member, noting that he as a Member of the Liberal Democrats was not delusional.

·           That in the last financial year the Council spent £220 million on Children's Services and the officers had identified the need to increase the budget by £18.4 million in the coming financial year to cover the expected increase in numbers of Looked After Children expected and inflationary costs.

·           That even with a 4.99% increase in Council Tax the Council would not have that money outlined above. 

·           That the cost of providing support to Surrey’s most vulnerable children and families was related to staff costs, those would have to reduce.

·           Noted several areas of concern in the budget including of the impact of efficiencies totalling £13.8 million such as in Looked After Children, Home to School Transport, staff realignment and restructuring; the cuts would leave children and families behind.

·           Responded to a previous comment made by another Member, noting that Members representing Farnham were pleased with the Farnham town centre infrastructure programme, which had faced difficulties in the form of local opposition and where the funding would come from; credited the Leader on the progress of the infrastructure programme.

·           Noted disappointment in Your Fund Surrey.

·           Responded to a previous comment by another Member, noting that the Residents' Association and Independents Group does not propose an alternative budget because at every Council meeting the Conservative Party votes down opposing views.

·           That following years of poor financial management by successive Conservative Party administrations and the publication of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) report, lessons had not been learnt.

·           That the Council was not efficiently managing its resources and was still making mistakes costing taxpayers money, noting examples including: the debt repayment strategy was described by Grant Thornton as imprudent, a commercial property strategy was now worth 50% less than the original purchase price, the costly failed purchase of a property for a headquarters in Woking leading to the purchase of Woodhatch Place which was inaccessible so the Council was subsidising taxis to get staff to work, and an IT project £3 million over budget and required an additional spend of £700,000.

·           Noted the usual response to solving problems whereby the Council had recently appointed and would be shortly appointing another director earning over £100,000.

·           Challenged the Leader’s comment in his statement whereby he said that every single penny spent was designed to improve the lives of residents, that was not the case as pointed out by previous Members that there had been a series of  financial failings and failed strategies in the last year.

·           That residents were calling for competent financial management and Surrey’s most vulnerable residents were owed better support from the Council including accessible funding opportunities, new social and educational policies that do not harm those most in need, a strategy that would ensure well-maintained children's homes and safe streets through the funding to end the part-night street lighting switch off.


The Leader of the Council made the following comments in response:


·         That by not supporting the budget those Members were not supporting Surrey’s residents.

·         Accepted that the administration did not always get it right and had asked for Members’ support and ideas through established processes such as through the select committee system, the Cabinet and the Council.

·         That no one is left behind was an ongoing ambition, questioned what the ambitions were of the opposition groups.

·         Agreed that politics was not a game and was about people's lives, little had been said by the opposition groups on the 3% for ASC and the 1% for mental health which would be used to support Surrey’s 40,000 vulnerable residents.

·         Highlighted that despite the challenging past two years of the pandemic, the Council had delivered a multitude of projects and supported its vulnerable residents; recognised that there had been delays in some cases and things that could have been done better.

·         Highlighted the complex context of a £1 billion budget to deliver for 1.2 million Surrey residents.

·         That the budget identified how the Council would spend that money and alternative budgets could be proposed.

·         That referring to what had happened in the past was pointless, it was imperative that the Council looked to the future and delivered its series of programmes, residents and the select committees would hold the administration to account on that delivery.

·         Responded to a previous comment by another member noting that the Council had a Communications team to disseminate the truth to residents.

·         Referring to a press release by another Member on the Levelling Up White Paper which referred to a ‘power grab’, that having looked up the definition for devolution it was about devolving powers from central Government to local or government rather than a ‘power grab’.

·         That a County Deal would be better for Surrey’s residents.

·         Clarified that three Government cabinet ministers were Surrey MPs.

·         That he would pick up any of those other issues raised through the correct process and was happy to speak to any Member with concerns or suggestions.


After the debate the Chair called the recommendations, which included the Council Tax precept proposals, and a recorded vote was taken with 43 Members voting For, 31 voting Against and 1 Abstentions.


The following Members voted for it:


Maureen Attewell, Ayesha Azad, Steve Bax, Jordan Beech, Luke Bennett, Liz Bowes, Natalie Bramhall, Helyn Clack, Clare Curran, Paul Deach, Kevin Deanus, John Furey, Matt Furniss, Tim Hall, David Harmer, Edward Hawkins, Marisa Heath, Trefor Hogg, Robert Hughes, Jonathan Hulley, Saj Hussain, Frank Kelly, Riasat Khan, Rachael Lake, Victor Lewanski, David Lewis (Cobham), David Lewis (Camberley West), Scott Lewis, Andy Lynch, Cameron McIntosh, Sinead Mooney, Mark Nuti, John O’Reilly, Tim Oliver, Rebecca Paul, Becky Rush, Tony Samuels, Lesley Steeds, Mark Sugden, Richard Tear, Denise Turner-Stewart, Jeremy Webster, Keith Witham.


The following Members voted against it:


Catherine Baart, John Beckett, Amanda Boote, Stephen Cooksey, Colin Cross, Nick Darby, Fiona Davidson, Jonathan Essex, Robert Evans, Paul Follows, Will Forster, Angela Goodwin, Nick Harrison, Robert King, Eber Kington, Andy MacLeod, Michaela Martin, Jan Mason, Steven McCormick, Julia McShane, Carla Morson, George Potter, Catherine Powell, Penny Rivers, John Robini, Joanne Sexton, Lance Spencer, Chris Townsend, Liz Townsend, Hazel Watson, Fiona White.


The following Members abstained:


Ernest Mallett MBE.


Scott Lewis left the meeting at 1.33 pm.


Therefore it was RESOLVED that:


Council noted the following features of the revenue and capital budget, and in line with Section 25 of the Local Government Act 2003:

1.    The Executive Director of Resources’ (Section 151 Officer) conclusion that estimates included in the Final Budget Report and Medium-Term Financial Strategy are sufficiently robust in setting the budget for 2022/23; and

2.    That it is the view of the Executive Director of Resources (Section 151 Officer), that the level of reserves is adequate to meet the Council’s needs for 2022/23. These reserves and contingencies include the following amounts, (totalling 86.0m) set aside specifically to provide financial resilience:

·         a General Fund (£28m).

·         Specific contingencies built into the 2022/23 budget (£20m); and

·         Unused contingency brought forward from previous years (at least £38m depending on 2021/22 outturn).

Proposed budget: That the following Revenue and Capital budget decisions be approved:

3.    The net revenue budget requirement be set at £1,042.0 million (net cost of services after service specific government grants) for 2022/23 (Annex B), subject to confirmation of the Final Local Government Financial Settlement.

4.    The total Council Tax Funding Requirement be set at £829.7 million for 2022/23. This is based on a council tax increase of 4.99%, made up of an increase in the level of core council tax of 1.99% to cover core Council services, including 1% for mental health, and an increase of 3% in the precept proposed by Central Government to cover the growing cost of Adult Social Care (Annex E).

5.    For the purpose of section 52ZB of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, the Council formally determines that the increase in core council tax is not such as to trigger a referendum (i.e., not greater than 2%).

6.    Sets the Surrey County Council precept for Band D Council Tax at £1,626.39, which represents a 4.99% uplift. This is a rise of £1.48 a week from the 2021/22 precept of £1,549.08. This includes £185.48 for the Adult Social Care precept, which has increased by £46.47. A full list of bands is as follows:


7.    That the 4.99% increase in Council Tax will be deployed as follows:

·      0.99% increase to fund the increased cost of delivering services

·      3.00% increase to fund additional spend in adult and children’s social care

·      1.00% increase to fund additional investment in mental health.

Across this investment, the 3% increase in Adult Social Care Precept will be directed entirely to Adult Social Care.


8.    Delegated powers to the Leader and Executive Director of Resources (Section 151 Officer) to finalise budget proposals and recommendations to County Council, updated to take into account new information in the Final Local Government Finance Settlement;


9.    The Total Schools Budget of £575.2 million to meet the Council’s statutory requirement on schools funding (as set out in Section 9 of the 2022/23 Final Budget and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27).

10.   The overall indicative Budget Envelopes for Executive Directorates and individual services for the 2022/23 budget (Annex B).

11.   The total £1,909.6 million proposed five-year Capital Programme (comprising £1,031.2m of budget and £878.4.9m pipeline) and approves the £212.1 million Capital Budget in 2022/23 (Annex C).

12.   The Council’s refreshed Transformation Programme (as set out in section 3 of 2022/23 Final Budget Report and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27)

13.   Noted that the investment in Transformation required to deliver improved outcomes and financial benefits is built into the proposed Medium-Term Financial Strategy (as set out in section 3 of 2022/23 Final Budget Report and Medium-Term Financial Strategy to 2026/27.


Capital and Investment Strategies: That the following be approved: 


14.   The Capital, Investment and Treasury Management Strategy which provides an overview of how risks associated with capital expenditure, financing and treasury will be managed as well as how they contribute towards the delivery of services (Annex F).

15.   The policy for making a prudent level of revenue provision for the repayment of debt (the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy) (Annex G).


Supporting documents: