Report of the County Treasurer (CT/20/65) outlining the Budget Monitoring Position at Month 4, attached.
(Councillors Biederman, Dewhirst, Greenslade and Hannaford attended remotely in accordance with Standing Order 25(2) and the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 and spoke to this item).
The Cabinet considered the Report of the County Treasurer (CT/20/65) outlining the Budget Monitoring Position at Month 4, circulated prior to the meeting in accordance with regulation 7(4) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012.
The Report outlined the financial position and forecast for the Authority at month 4 (end of July) of the financial year and it was estimated that budgets would overspend by £4.5 millions. Whilst it was still early in the financial year, if the overspend materialised, it could be accommodated by not making the 2020/21 planned contribution to reserves of £4.5 millions.
The Dedicated Schools Grant funding shortfall, relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), was forecast to be £26.8 millions. In line with Department for Education guidance, it was proposed this would be carried forward to future years.
Government had put in place a number of grant funding streams to help support Local Authorities during this difficult period, due to the pandemic, the most significant being the Local Authority Covid Support Grant, totalling £41.43 millions. Currently, there was an overcommitment of just over £4 millions against the grant, but if pressure continued and further funding was not forthcoming there would be a need to meet the overspend from reserves.
In terms of service areas, Adult Care and Health Services were forecast to overspend by just under £2.9 millions, Children’s Services were forecasting an overspend of £2.5 millions (not including the projected funding shortfall of £26.8 millions on Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste were forecasting an overspend of £500,000 at month 4 and Communities, Public Health, Environment and Prosperity (COPHEP) were forecasting a breakeven position. Corporate Services were forecasting an overspend of just over £1 million, the result of deferred income and cost pressures within Legal Services.
Non-service items, which included capital financing charges, were forecast to underspend by £2.4 millions.
In terms of the approved capital programme, the year-end forecast was £159.5 millions, producing forecast slippage of £18.2 millions, mainly attributable to variations and programme delays in Planning and Transportation (£12.0 millions net slippage) which reflected the complexity of the major schemes within the service.
Cabinet noted that the Council had been asked to act as the Accountable Body for the Further Education Digital Skills Accelerator project (FEDA), which would see the investment by Devon Colleges of £2.3 millions in new capital equipment funded 50% by Growth Deal funding and 50% by Devon Colleges. Acting as Accountable Body meant that the County Council was appointed by the Partnership to exercise duties and responsibilities on their behalf, such as processing grant claims to the LEP and reimbursing Colleges for eligible expenditure. The Council would not incur any expenditure, other than administrative expenses for which it would be compensated.
The Report also highlighted the position in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. Government had been making a series of ongoing policy announcements, initially at Budget 2020 which meant local authorities have had to respond quickly and understand their financial implications. The Report explained the grant funding streams in place to help support
In summary, the level of uncertainty and pressures being faced by the public sector this year was greater than ever before. The projected forecast was welcomed but there remained significant far reaching risks associated with the impact of the pandemic, which could be financially destabilising.
The matter having been debated and other relevant factors as set out in the County Treasurer’s Report and/or referred to above having been considered:
it was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor McInnes, and
(a) that the month 4 budget monitoring forecast position be noted; and
(b) that Devon County Council act as the Accountable Body for the further Education Digital Skills Accelerator project (FEDA).