Councillor R C Evans, Cabinet Member for Council Finance & Governance presented the report of the Director: Finance & Human Resources, Chief Finance Officer.
Cabinet Members noted that despite the significant financial impacts relating to the coronavirus (CV-19) pandemic, the Council had ended the year in a positive financial position. During this unprecedented time, the Council had continued to offer all usual services (Subject to national and local restrictions), as well as providing additional support for residents and businesses, such as distributing grant support, business rates relief, supporting vaccination roll out and the track and trace provision. The Council had not needed to use any unplanned use of reserves during 2020/21.
The gross revenue budget for 2020/21 was £414m and the net budget was £129m. The revenue outturn position was within budget with a final net underspend of £0.039m (which was equivalent to only -0.03% of net budget) after the proposed transfers to reserves and balances had been made. This position had been achieved after delivering £2.9m of budget savings in 2020/21, on top of the £123.5m made since 2009/10 years giving a total of £126.4m- equivalent to around £700 for every home in the Borough.
The funding outlook for the medium term was very uncertain. The Government had confirmed that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the planned review of local government finance system would be postponed, however, changes to the New Homes Bonus system would come into effect during 2022/23. However, there had been no confirmation of the funding levels for 2022/23, and it was anticipated that the Council would need to deliver £8.8m savings already identified for 2021/22 and 2022/23, plus an additional £10.7m of further savings over the two years 2022/23 and 2023/24.
The key areas of pressures during 2020/21 were noted. Several areas of pressure were highlighted, including children’s safeguarding, adult social care and communities, customer and commercial services.
The Capital Outturn position 2020/21 was noted; capital spend ended the year at £57.71m against an approved estimate of £63.7m which was largely due to re-phasing expenditure into 2021/22.
NuPlace was a separate legal entity and as such prepared its own accounts but as NuPlace was wholly owned by the Council, consolidated group accounts were also prepared. The unaudited accounts showed that NuPlace had generated an operating profit after interest and taxation of £0.463 in 2020/21, and was expected to issue a dividend of £0.156m during the year to the council as the sole investor. The Council also received income from NuPlace totalling £1.5m during 2020/21 net of additional interest and other marginal costs.
It was reported that the draft formal statement of accounts were considered at the Audit committee at the end of May and would be audited by Grant Thornton, the Council’s external auditors, during June and July, the accounts would also be available for public inspection for 30 working days.
Members welcomed the report and stated it was a tremendous achievement in the circumstances of Covid-19 and over a decade of government cuts. Members expressed their thanks to officers for their hard work in producing the budget.
RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to COUNCIL that –
(a) the Revenue outturn position for 2020/21 and related virements in Appendix 3 of the report which is subject to audit by the Council’s external auditors be approved;
(b) the transfers and changes to reserves and associated approval to the relevant members of the Senior Management Team (as determined by the Chief Executive) and after consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member to spend the reserves as detailed in section 5 of the report and Appendix 5 of the report be approved ;
(c) the Capital outturn position and related supplementary estimates, re-phasing and virements shown in Appendix 4 of the report and as summarised in the report be approved;
(d) that delegated authority be granted to the Director: Finance & HR to make any changes required as the outturn is finalised in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Council Finance and Governance;
(e) the performance against income targets be noted; and
(f) the 2021/22 Public Health Grant be approved and the 2021/22 budget strategy be updated accordingly