The Council's Financial Management
The Parish Council is required, by section 151 of the Local Government Act 1972, to appoint a Responsible Financial Officer; this role is held by the Clerk to the Council.
All accounts and procedures are administered by the Full Council, and are under the scrutiny of an Internal Auditor, and externally audited by Littlejohn LLP.
Northstowe Town Council derives most of its funding from a share (called ‘the Precept’) of the Council Tax, which is collected by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The Precept is the total amount raised through the Council Tax share from all the dwellings in the parish of Northstowe.
Town and Parish Councils do not receive any direct funding from central government and rely on their Precept plus any other income they generate from services or facilities they provide, or by grants, to fund its activities and services. Northstowe Town Council, in addition, also obtains some income from Section 106 contributions from developers, linked to trigger points for the Phase 2 development of the town.
How is the Precept calculated?
The Precept requirement is the difference between the Town Council’s estimated income and its anticipated spending requirements for the financial year, which runs from 1st April to 31st March. The Town Council agrees a budget before it can set its Precept and both must be agreed by the Full Council.
The budget for 2021-'22 was made in conjunction with the Interim Town Council. For 2022-'23 onwards, the 15 members of the Town Council set the Precept taking into consideration:
· Current year’s spending levels -for ongoing services for which it is responsible
· Costs of any additional spending plans or projects
· Provision for contingencies and reserves
· Levels of anticipated income – from services for which it is responsible e.g. Income, allotment fees, grants.
The Precept for Northstowe for 2021-'22 is set at £66,472.80 - which equates to £81.99 per annum for a band D house.
The Precept for Northstowe for 2022-'23 is set at £88,250.86 - which equates to £86.09 per annum for a band D house (+5% on '21-'22)
Northstowe Town Council Budget for 2021-'22:
The Precept for Northstowe for 2021-'22 had been determined by South Cambridgeshire District Council, as there was a requirement for this to be set prior to the re-organisation order coming into effect on the 1st April 2021; the budget for 2021-'22 was made in conjunction with the Interim Town Council. From the 1st April 2021 the Interim Council and subsequently following the May 2021 elections the elected Council has worked to this budget until year end – March 31st 2022.
Northstowe Town Council budget for 2021/2022
Northstowe Town Council Budget for 2022-'23.
· Estimated Income for the year: £90,250.86 (which consists of Precept plus expected minimum of £2,000 in grants and sponsorship)
· Estimated Expenditure for the year: £100,972.50
· The budget for 2022-'23 was approved by the Town Council at its Full Council meeting held on 15th December 2021. A 5% Precept increase was combined with a decision to take £10,721.64 out of the General Reserve, which is the difference between the estimated income and estimated expenditure for 2022-'23. This was made possible because of a circa £16,000 underspend on the 2021-'22 budget, enabling the Town Council to keep the precept rise low.
· Earmarked Reserves, on 1st April 2022: £21,766.50; expected by end of '22-'23 financial year: £32,599.50 (Section 106 contributions).
· General Reserve, on 1st April 2022: £51,711.03 (includes the remainder of underspend from 2021-'22).
Northstowe Town Council budget for 2022-2023
Key changes in budget for 2022-'23, reflecting the increase in estimated expenditure against the budget for 2021-'22:
· Piloting of a market in Northstowe;
· Launch of grant awarding policy to support community groups;
· Increase in involvement with and delivery of community events;
· Employment of Assistant Clerk to help cover growth in workload;
· Investigations and legal advice into possible future community asset transfers to the Town Council.
For 2023-'24 the Town Council budget process will commence in August when the Responsible Financial Officer begins preparing draft budgets for each Committee and considers the Council needs as a whole. The draft budgets will then be reviewed by the Finance and governance Committee, following which the Full Council will set its formal budget in December of January.