Key Decision identified as 2020/21 Financial Management Report in the Notice of Key Decisions published on 9 December 2020.
Councillor R C Evans, Cabinet Member: Council Finance & Governance presented the report of the Director: Finance & Human Resources (Chief Financial Officer).
The Service & Financial Planning Strategy, also considered at this meeting, set the context of the continuing and prolonged financial challenges facing the Council. The Council had a long track record of sound financial management, however, the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) had a significant impact on the whole country. The UK entered into a first period of initial lockdown in March 2020 and the Council had immediately moved to an emergency response mode, to safeguard the community and employees.
During the year, the Council had continued to provide all the usual services, except where they have been suspended due to national or local restrictions (for example, leisure centres and libraries during lockdown periods). The Council had also provided additional support to residents and businesses.
This has all been during a period where income streams have been under pressure, as well as following over a decade of severe financial constraints from central Government due to cuts in grants. There had been an increase in demand for many council services, including Social Care provision.
The total projected budget pressure was estimated to be £20.55m (including council tax and business rates shortfalls). The Council received £18.97m of Government National Emergency Response Funding, which left a residual pressure of £1.58m. This was a change to the projected position reported to Cabinet in January 2021, however, there had been a further period of national lockdown, which had impacted on the projected calculations. The Council continued to exercise a high degree of financial control through active budget management by Cabinet Members, Senior Managers and budget holders across the organisation.
The total pressure of £20.55m included an estimate for potential reductions in council tax and business rates income of £6.1m. The Government announced during the Comprehensive Spending Review that they would investigate a tax income guarantee scheme of 75%, the net shortfall could then be collected over a three year period.
There were a number of variations to the approved budget, many of which related to Covid-19. Children’s Safeguarding and Family Support continued to be a key area of pressure with additional investment of £0.658m, related to Children in Care Placement costs and £0.311m related to additional staffing costs.
Adult Social Care required additional investment of £3.758m, related to increased costs to support care providers and clients, and a further investment of £5.459m for the costs of short term reablement care.
Education & Corporate Parenting was also under pressure with a projected overspend of £0.37m. This was largely due to additional home to school transport costs.
The capital programme totalled £63m for 2020/21 which included all approvals since the budget was set. At the time that the report was compiled, projected spend was 97% of the budget allocation.
Members thanked the officers for their work in producing this report.
RESOLVED – that:
a) The 2020/21 revenue budget position, which has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, be noted
b) The position in relation to capital spend be noted and that authority be delegated to the Executive Director: Housing, Communities & Customer Services, after consultation with the Cabinet Member for Economy, Housing, Transport & Infrastructure to allocate £2m approved Housing allocation to support the council priorities of addressing the issue of stalled sites and empty properties across the Borough and the provision of specialist accommodation
c) The collection rates for NNDR, council tax and sales ledger be noted.