The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported on an update on the Council’s revenue financial position as at 30 June 2021. She informed Cabinet that Council at its meeting on 24 February 2021 approved a net revenue budget of £298.956m for 2021-22 and she summarised the net revenue budget and projected outturn for 2021-22, which showed a net over spend of £904k on directorates and a beak even projection on council wide budgets.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported that the Welsh Government had set up a Covid-19 hardship fund, with the Council successfully claiming £15m in expenditure and over £5.5m in loss of income claims in 2020-21. She stated that the Council will continue to from the Hardship fund against the eligible criteria and directorates will continue to capture costs incurred as a result of the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Updates will be provided to Cabinet in the quarterly revenue budget monitoring reports.
She informed Cabinet that a Covid -19 Recovery Fund of £1m had been established aimed at boosting recovery that were unlikely to be paid for by the Welsh Government. She highlighted the claims for Covid-19 expenditure which had been made. A further claim for loss of income was being made to the Welsh Government for the first quarter on 23 July 2021. She stated that in addition to the loss of income, the Council is also likely to see a reduction in Council Tax income. A 1% reduction in the collection rate, could equate to additional pressure to the Council of £1m.
The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change reported on position of outstanding prior year budget reductions, in that for 2012-22 there is likely to be a shortfall of £310k and she highlighted the proposals still not likely to be achieved. She highlighted the position of budget reductions in 2021-22, which showed a projected shortfall of £65k, the most significant being the re-location of the Community Recycling Centre from Tythegston to Pyle.
The Cabinet Member Communities referred to the claims on hold and was grateful for the funding made available to support homelessness but noted the tapering of funding. He questioned what claims are on hold and whether it would impact on homelessness. The Interim Chief Officer Finance, Performance and Change informed Cabinet that during lockdown the Council ensured that all homeless people received accommodation, however the Council has a growing number of people in temporary accommodation, with 170 to 200 people per week who present as homeless. The tapering of funding will cause a pressure on the Council’s budget, where costs are not funded. The Leader informed Cabinet that the Council is working with its partners on innovative housing solutions and there was a need to increase the pace, due to the increase in homelessness.
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help referred to the many underspends contained within the report, which reflects a lack of capacity and is a negative impact on staff. The Chief Officer Legal, HR and Regulatory Services informed Cabinet that the underspends were not attributed to savings, but where there are vacancies in posts which cannot be cut. Managers are doing their best and are looking at innovation, including opportunities for apprenticeships and a graduate scheme.
The Deputy Leader stated that the Council has been reliant on the funding it has received from the Welsh Government hardship fund and that it is still experiencing the impact of the pandemic along with austerity measures. He questioned the reason for the level of underspend on the adult community learning budget. The Corporate Director Education and Family Support commented on the importance of the adult community learning service, which had seen difficulties being experienced in recruitment to fill vacancies. However due to the pandemic, there had been increased levels of grant funding which had enabled courses to be delivered online.
The Leader commented that the Council will continue to make representations to the Welsh Government, which in turn receives its funding from the UK Government due to the financial pressures faced by the Council and to ensure that services are fully funded.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet noted the projected revenue position for 2021-22.