The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, that provided Cabinet with an update on the Council’s revenue financial position as at 31 December 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 reminding Cabinet 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 31 December 2020. This showed a net under spend of £691,000, comprising £1.187m net over spend on directorates and a £7.177m net under spend on corporate budgets. The next section of the report explained details of what the projected position was based on, and the Interim Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change gave a resume of this for the benefit of Members.
The next part 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 November 2020, while Table 3 gave a resume of the loss of income as a result of the pandemic to Quarter 2 2020-21, in respect of Schools and Council Directorates.
The report then shared information on the areas of Budget Virements/Technical Adjustments and Budget Reduction proposals
Table 4 in the report 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 for this financial year totalling £2.413m, broken down in Appendix 2 and summarised in Table 5 within the report. The current position is a projected shortfall on the savings target of £490k, or 20.3% of the overall budget reduction.
A summary of the financial position for each main service area was attached at Appendix 3, while the main impact of Covid-19 on the budget, if it were assumed that no further funding was forthcoming from Welsh Government, was summarised 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 review of earmarked reserves.
The Deputy Leader thanked Officers in the Finance Section for their prudent management of the budget in what had been a very difficult year where the Council had faced unprecedented financial pressures. He extended his gratitude to Welsh Government for the funding they had allocated to BCBC during what had been the most challenging times, since the Authority effectively closed its offices last March. He was pleased also that the Council had introduced a Covid-19 Recovery Fund.
The Leader echoed this and the continued efforts of staff in allocating grant funding to thousands of businesses across the County Borough, in order for them to survive the financial pressures brought about by the pandemic. He gave a word of caution however, in that there was no guarantee that the levels of funding given in the recent past, would be maintained going forward. This was dependent upon the level of funding continuing to be provided in the future months.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
• Noted the projected revenue position for 2020-21
• Recommended that Council approve the virements between £100,000 and £500,000 as outlined in paragraph 4.1.19 of the report.