Agenda and draft minutes

Budget Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday, 6th October, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Zoom

Contact: 01509 634781  Email: democracy@charnwood.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

24.

Disclosures of Pecuniary and Personal Interests

Minutes:

No disclosures were made.

25.

Declarations - The Party Whip

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

26.

Questions under Scrutiny Committee Procedure 11.17

No questions were submitted.

Minutes:

No questions had been submitted.

27.

Period 4 Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 343 KB

A report of the Head of Financial Services covering General Fund and HRA to the end of July 2021, Period 4.

Minutes:

The Head of Financial Services presented a report covering General Fund and HRA to the end of July 2021, Period 4. (Item 5 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with the consideration of the presentation: The Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services and the Strategic Director.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

·         In Period 4, the actual spend was £6.73million which meant a £7k underspend against the profiled budget of £6.737million.  The General Fund managed vacancy saving annual target was £527.7k.  There had been a small shortfall of 32k in savings recovered.

·         Financial pressures were highlighted including Planning related pressured that had been discussed with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and a projected shortfall of 107k in car park fee income.  To mitigate some income losses were put in a claim to the DCLG for Quarter 1 of £275k, however, it was clarified that claims could only be made for Quarter 1 as part of the government initiative.  It was added that staff working from home had saved the Council some expenditure and that there had been some income from the Vaccination Centre.  The Council were looking to reserve funds for shortfalls in the future.

·         The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) had an underspend of £81k.  Some void rents were currently falling behind profile and voids were in a shortfall position and garages were not hitting targets. 

·         A 30-year HRA business plan was being considered and would be coming forward in the autumn.

·         In relation to concerns about the fluctuations in costs that made up the £7k shortfall, it was noted that budgets were set as closely as possible.  The Covid-19 pandemic had affected income streams such as Car Park fees, however, some decisions had been made to try and encourage people back to town centres which would have an effect on the budget.  Local transport costs had been incurred since the budget had been set.  It was further added that there had been unexpected costs such as the £100k overspend forecast for Planning and this may not have been seen at the beginning of the year.  Currently the budget setting for the 2022/23 financial year was underspent, but issues were being highlighted going forward.  It was added that resilience was fairly robust.

·         The car allowance saving scheme had a potential shortfall of £200k as an estimate.  This figure had been developed over time and proposals would be going to a Trade Union meeting which would potentially save approximately £100k per annum.  In terms of implementation it was hoped that the proposals would go to Personnel Committee before the end of 2021 and a three-month implementation period would follow with proposals coming into effect from 1st April 2022.  It was clarified that no savings were expected this year but subsequently there would be around £100k of savings per annum thereafter.

·         It was clarified that ‘Commitments’ were orders placed on the system and captured Period 4 contract expenditure not yet paid.  A breakdown of spending and commitments would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

MTFS Tracker - Review of MTFS Position pdf icon PDF 1 MB

A report of the Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services tracking the data on the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

Minutes:

The Strategic Director submitted a report tracking the data on the Medium Term Financial Strategy. (Item 6 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with the consideration of the presentation: The Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services and the Head of Finance Services.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

·         Historically, the Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) had been updated in the autumn with a view to informing budget setting, however, due to uncertainties surrounding the settlement it had been thought best to update the MTFS in March in common with most other authorities.  As a result, the meeting looked at an updated version of the previous MTFS

·         The figures from March had been used in terms of projections, following which the figures were examined in terms of performance against savings targets.  Key differences had been found, particularly with regard to the essential car user figures.

·         In terms of savings and progress against the budget the Council were £214k down, in terms of pressures the Council were £307k down.

·         It was predicted that the Local Plan would have an adverse impact in terms of the Transport Plan amongst other costs.

·         £1million worth of savings were being targeted in options developed terms of Options to Change.  Accommodation had been particularly placemarked for savings.

·         In the current financial year, more government funding in terms of Council Tax support had been received, and this income had been reflected on the report presented.

·         There had been a revised use of reserve projections and savings were needed to be inputted to bridge the gap.

·         The outturn had been examined and the outcome had been more favourable than projected.  The MTFS had been based on an iterim budget which had been negative due to the impacts of Covid-19.  However, some lines of income had held up better than predicted and Covid-support from the government had left the Council £2million better-off.  Additionally, the Business Rate retention had meant that the Council could settle and finalise the position on the Enterprise Zone.

·         Whilst expenditure outlook had been negative, use of reserves had been positive and savings and additional income were being sought to close the gap.  Figures would change based on what was agreed.

·         In terms of risks, the New Homes Bonus Scheme was finishing, and as such was on ‘legacy payment’.  £3million had been received from it in this financial year, however, only £998k was due next financial year and nothing the year after that.  Whilst it was thought unlikely than no further government funding would be received to help bridge the gap, such a scenario was not impossible and as such needed to be planned for.  If more needed to be saved as time progressed, the situation would become more difficult, as such a funding risk existed.  A further risk was the Environment Bill, risks from it included the possibility of the Council having to pay for garden waste collections, food waste collections and changes to recycling.  Currently the Council generated £4.3million from garden waste collections,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Approach to Budget Setting for 2022/23 (Verbal Update)

A verbal report of the Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services outlining the approaches to setting the budget for the 2022/23 financial year.

Minutes:

The Strategic Director presented a verbal report outlining the approaches to setting the budget for the 2022/23 financial year. (Item 7 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with the consideration of the presentation: The Cabinet Lead Member for Finance and Property Services and the Head of Finance Services.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

·         Officers had prepared a list of proposals for savings.  If the list did not prove sufficient in terms of total savings there were other lists under development.

·         The Council currently tried to preserve services in the way they operated.

·         The list would not be decided upon until the settlement was known.

·         The consideration of actions was a work in progress and would take most of the next five months.

 

RESOLVED that the Report be noted.

 

Reason

 

To acknowledge the Panel’s consideration of the matter.