The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change presented a report which updated Cabinet on the Council’s revenue financial position as at 31st December 2021, and sought approval for budget virements between £100,000 and £500,000, as required by the Council’s Financial Procedure Rules.
The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change highlighted the table at section 4 of the report which detailed the financial position at 31st December 2021 and the Comparison of budget against projected outturn.
She explained that there was a net under spend of £2.525 million comprising a £2.072 million net under spend on directorates and a £7.457 million net under spend on council wide budgets, offset by a net appropriation to earmarked reserves of £7.004 million. What the projected position was based on was listed at 4.1.2 of the report.
She added that the projected under spend on the Council budget at quarter 3 significantly masked the underlying budget pressures in some service areas that were reported in 2020-21 and still persisted in 2021-22. The main financial pressures were in Home to School Transport, Social Services and Wellbeing, Homelessness and Waste. The reasons for these were outlined in sections 4.1.4 through 4.1.7 of the report.
The Chief Officer – Finance, Performance and Change outlined the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and what the estimated costs were from the Council in response to this. She provided figures on Covid-19 expenditure claims up to end of November 2021 as well as the Covid-19 loss of income to Quarter 2 2021-22. Details of this were at section 4 of the report.
She added that there had been a number of budget virements and technical adjustments between budgets since the quarter 2 Revenue Forecast was presented to Cabinet in October. The budget position was reported on the assumption that these virements will be approved. Details were at 4.1.22 of the report.
The Deputy Leader was pleased with the position of underspend of the authority for this financial year but the picture could have been different if it were not for the Welsh Government hardship fund. He thanked officers for their work in drawing down the funds from Welsh Governments. The Leader echoed these comments and stated that the hardship fund may not be there in the next financial year so it was important for the authority to draw what they could from these funds.
The Cabinet Member Communities mentioned that the report highlighted underspend as a result of Covid. He asked if there were any other causes for underspend like supply chains etc.
The Chief Officer – Finance Performance and Change explained that there were additional problems and supply chains was one of the more prominent ones. She added that this was not a unique issue to Bridgend but all Local Authorities in Wales. This has also impacted contractors being able to take on additional work, which has in turn affected the progress that has been made on specific projects. She added that there had been an increase in in costs as a result of Brexit and Covid which were difficult to plan for so this was something to keep an eye on going into the next financial year.
The Cabinet Member Communities asked where we were seeing over inflation in costs in relation to provision of goods and services, are we choosing not to issue that work because of inappropriate use of Council funds. The Chief Officer – Finance Performance and Change stated that this was something that needed to be looked at on an individual basis and discussions would be had with suppliers relating to the work that we needed and their costs, but many schemes were essential and therefore needed to be procured even if the costs were higher than anticipated.
The Leader commented on this point and stated that a good example of work that had to be procured was the learner travel scheme. This is an essential service that must be provided. Some of these services had gone out for retender, but providers costs had increased considerably in some cases.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
recommended that Council approve the virements between £100,000 and £500,000 as outlined in paragraph 4.1.22 of the report.