Interim Head of Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, that provided Cabinet with an update on the Council’s revenue financial position as at 30th September 2020, and sought approval for budget virements between £100,000 and £500,000 as required by the Council’s Financial Procedure Rules.
She commenced her submission, by advising that on 26th February 2020, Council approved a net revenue budget of £286.885 million for 2020-21. As part of the Performance Management Framework, budget projections are reviewed regularly and reported to Cabinet on a quarterly basis. The delivery of agreed budget reductions is also kept under review and reported to Cabinet as part of this process.
Table 1 in the report, gave the Council’s net revenue budget and projected outturn for 2020-21 as at 30 September 2020. This showed a net under spend of £31,000, comprising £3.488m net over spend on directorates and a £3.519m net under spend on corporate budgets.
The next section of the report outlined the financial pressures the Council had faced since Covid-19 and the various negative ways this had impacted on the Authority’s financial position. These pressures would also continue into the foreseeable future, added the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change.
Table 2 in the report gave a summary of the Covid-19 expenditure claims up to August 2020, while Table 3 gave a resume of the loss of income as a result of the pandemic for Quarter 1 2020-21, in respect of Schools and in the Social Services and Wellbeing, Education and Family Support, Chief Executives and Communities Directorates.
The report then shared information on the following areas:-
1. Budget virements/technical adjustments;
2. Pay/Price Inflation;
3. Budget Reduction Proposals
Table 4 in the report then gave some information regarding the Outstanding Prior Year Budget Reductions, which reflected that of the £2.501m outstanding reductions, £1.792m was likely to be achieved in 2020-21, leaving a shortfall of £709k. Some of the proposals still likely not to be achieved were shown in paragraph 4.2.2 of the report.
Paragraph 4.2.4 outlined the Budget Reduction proposals totalling £2.413m, broken down in Appendix 2 and summarised in Table 5 within the report. The current position on which, was a projected shortfall on the savings target of £451k, or 18.6% of the overall budget reduction.
A summary of the financial position for each main service area was attached at Appendix 3, while comments on the most significant variances were provided in Table 6 in paragraph 4.3 of the report.
The final paragraphs of the report then concentrated on budgetary issues on a Directorate by Directorate basis (including schools), Council wide budgets and Earmarked Reserves, the latter of which had been further financially supplemented.
The Interim Deputy Head of Finance added that monthly claims were continuing to be submitted to Welsh Government (WG) and there were weekly responses being received from them regarding these.
She was pleased to confirm, that the Council would receive a £300k claim towards free school meal costs for this year.
The Deputy Leader stated that the Council could take some satisfaction from the overall position the Authority found itself in during difficult times, though there were big challenges ahead in respect of Directorate budgets with the pandemic continuing to have a detrimental impact on the Council’s MTFS.
He was pleased with the financial support BCB were continuing to have from WG, with over £7m having been received to date, in order to mitigate the additional pressures and loss of income the Council had faced since the Spring lockdown. Without this he added, the Council would find itself in an impossible position.
He was pleased to announce that the Authority had invested £1m into an Economic Recovery Fund, established for local businesses and residents alike. This had been used for free town centre car parking, reduced Rent payments for BCBC owned properties and the wavering of Sports facility hire fees for this year.
He also welcomed the further financial assistance received for small/medium sized Enterprises, in order for them to weather the Covid-19 storm.
To conclude, he stated that this year had been an extremely difficult one, however, the Council had still in the face of such adversity, managed its budget as well as could have been expected and that it would continue to seek external funding wherever possible, so as to continue to bolster this.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
(1) Noted the projected revenue position for 2020-21
(2) Recommended that Council approve the virements between £100,000 and £500,000 as outlined in paragraph 4.1.14 of the report.