Report of the County Treasurer (CT/20/84) reporting on the budget monitoring position at month 6, attached.
(Councillors Connett, Dewhirst, 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/20/84) on the month 6 budget monitoring position, 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 that at month 6 it was estimated that budgets would overspend by £2.7millions, a reduction of £1.8 millions from the month 4 forecast of £4.5 millions. If the overspending materialised, it would be accommodated by not making the full 2020/21 planned contribution to reserves.
The Dedicated Schools Grant funding shortfall, relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), was forecast to be £27.8 millions. In line with guidance from the Department of Education this would not be dealt with in the current financial year but carried forward to future years.
Government had put in place a number of grant funding streams to help support Local Authorities with Covid 19. The most recent was confirmation of a fourth tranche of the Local Authority Support Grant. Totalling £919 millions nationally, the Council had received just under £2.1 millions which was considerably less than anticipated. This grant was fully explained in section 8.3 of the Report and Cabinet noted that in total the Council had received £43.5 millions.
For service areas, the Cabinet noted that Adult Care and Health Services were forecast to overspend by £2.3 millions, a reduction of £600,000 from month 4 and Children’s Services were forecasting an overspend of £3.1 millions (the figure did not include the projected shortfall of £27.8 millions on Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND)).
Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste were forecasting a breakeven position, a reduction of £500,000 from month 4 and Communities, Public Health, Environment and Prosperity (COPHEP) an underspend of just under £1.7 millions.
Corporate Services were showing a projected overspend of £446,000, a reduction of £579,000 from month 4.
The approved capital programme was £186.1 millions and the year-end forecast was £162.0 millions, producing forecast slippage of £24.1 millions, in the main attributed to variations and programme delays in Highways, Planning and Transportation (£17.0 millions net slippage) reflecting the complexity of the major schemes.
Corporate debt stood at £7.9 millions, being 4.6% of the annual value of invoices, against the annual target of 1.9%. The balance of debt owed would continue to be pursued with the use of legal action where appropriate to do so, but the Leader explained that some pursuit actions had been halted due to the pandemic.
In summary, the level of uncertainty and pressure being faced by the public sector was unprecedented. Whilst the projected forecast of breakeven was welcomed there remained significant far reaching risks associated with the impact of the pandemic, which could be financially destabilising.
The matter having been debated it was MOVED by Councillor Hart, SECONDED by Councillor McInnes and
(a) the Month 6 budget monitoring forecast position be noted; and
(b) the Covid-19 Local Authority Support Grant update also be received.