Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
To receive a report from the Deputy Chief
Executive (S151) on the Council’s Financial position as at 30
The Cabinet had before it a report * from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) presenting the forecast Outturn position for the General Fund, Housing Revenue Account and Capital Programme for the financial year 2023/24.
The Cabinet Member for Finance outlined the contents of the report with particular reference to the following:
· Based on quarter 2 data the Cabinet were asked to note the Outturn position for the General Fund which was a £196k overspend. This needed to be set in context with the Council having set a budget back in March with an in year savings target of £1.025m. Therefore to have delivered all the services to a high standard and on time was a remarkable achievement.
· Many other Council’s were facing serious financial difficulties. Under spending by over £800k needed to be recognised and praised.
· Variances were symptomatic of economic circumstances e.g. Planning and Building Control fees were significantly lower than forecast due to the stagnation of the housing market.
· Membership numbers continued to increase in Leisure.
· Staff sickness continues to be quite high requiring more temporary staffing than expected.
· These forecasts were before the final indications of the soft closure of 3Rivers takes place. This would incur further impairment of loans The funding of this impairment would need to be paid out of service underspends, Earmarked Reserves and additional borrowing in the future, all of which would impact future budget decisions.
· The HRA was showing a healthy underspend of £485k, this was largely due to staff savings, partially offset by higher than budgeted materials.
· Regarding the Capital Programme, there was a sizeable variance against the budget given the decision to close 3Rivers. There was also significant slippage regarding the Cullompton Relief Road.
Discussion took place regarding:
· The sort of tendering process the Council went through to recruit agency staff.
· There was a process from ‘Temporary’ to ‘Permanent’ but the need for this did not often occur as most people chose to work on a temporary basis in the service areas affected most.
· Funds being used to do feasibility works in relation to Hydromills.
· The larger number within the report were in relation to the Cullompton Relief Road, the Waste depot and 3Rivers. The remainder was due to slippage in the HRA development programme.
· The long awaited announcement in relation to Council’s being able to increase Planning Application fees had been announced the previous day. This could potentially increase income to the Council by £200k a year.
· There had been a well-attended Member briefing on the Budget.
a. The financial monitoring information for the income and expenditure for the three months to 30 September 2023 and the projected outturn position be NOTED;
b. The use of Waivers for the Procurement of goods and services as included in Section 9 be NOTED;
c. The estimated 2023/24 3Rivers write off of c£3.7m will be funded through a combination of Earmarked Reserves included New Homes Bonus and various sinking funds be NOTED. The precise make up of this will be recommended within the Cabinet Outturn report.
d. The virement of the capital approval from the Hydromills project (currently deemed unviable) to be replaced by Investment in Solar Panels (once quantified) with the remainder being released be APPROVED.
(Proposed by Cllr J Buczkowski and seconded by Cllr S Keable)
Reason for the decision:
Good financial management and administrationunderpinned the entire document. A surplus or deficit on the Revenue Budget would impact on the Council’s General Fund balances. The Council’s financial position was constantly reviewed to ensure its continued financial health. Regular financial monitoring information mitigates the risk of over or underspends at year-end and allows the Council to direct its resources to key corporate priorities.
Note: * Report previously circulated.
Report author: Andrew Jarrett
Publication date: 21/11/2023
Date of decision: 14/11/2023
Decided at meeting: 14/11/2023 - Cabinet