Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
To note the Council’s financial
performance for 2021/22 and to approve movements to and from
reserves and the carry forward of budgets to 2022/23.
The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder presented the Revenue and Capital Outturn 2021/2/2 report which set out the Council’s financial performance for 2021/22 and the impact on reserves. He highlighted the impact of Covid on the finance team and thanked them for their hard work throughout the year and added that the Council was in a good position, despite the challenges posed by the labour market.
Attention was drawn to the overall net General Fund, which had a net overspend of £23,000 for 2021/22, including Covid-19 and resulted in a net contribution of £5,000 to reserves rather than the use of £18,000 reserves as budgeted. This represented a higher than projected overspend. He added that in anticipation of the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Council’s budgets for 2021/22 included a contingency budget for reduced income of £697,500, which had been partially offset by Sales, Fees and Charges Grant of £65,000 reflecting the grant only covered the first quarter of the financial year. However, thanks to a busy summer, income from car parks recovered and ended the year only £23,000 lower than budgeted so the contingency was not required for car park income.
The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder noted that the largest single element of expenditure for the Council related to employee costs, mainly salaries but also pension contributions and the cost of agency and contract staff. In addition, employee costs were incurred on agency and temporary staff to ensure continuity of services while staff were redeployed to Covid-19 related tasks. He added that labour costs and the challenging labour market had made it difficult to fill vacancies which added to the expenditure.
Members were informed of an underspend in the capital programme of £4.1 million the majority of which related to timing adjustments with request to carry forwards budgets to 2021/22 or the removal of expenditure relating to Kendal Flood Relief programme, which was treated as agency expenditure in the Council’s accounts. The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder reiterated his earlier point in thanking officers for their hard work during a challenging period.
In response to a query regarding staffing and the impact of Local Government Reorganisation alongside the Pandemic, the Chief Executive noted the significant impact of the pandemic on staff and commended the resilience and commitment shown by the Council’s staff. He added that the staffing issues referred to in the report were linked to national issues around the labour market, rather than the impact of Local Government Reorganisation.
In response to a question raised by Members, the Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder reassured Members that although the Capital Programme was a demanding programme, work to prioritise the Council’s actions had begun. He added that he was confident that the Westmorland and Furness Authority would pick up any projects that were underway but not completed this year.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the outturn figures and variance explanations set out in the report and appendices be noted;
(2) the carry forwards set out in Appendix 1c and Appendix 2 to the report be approved;
(3) Council be requested to approve the virement of £2,109,829 for the Covid Additional Relief Fund as set out in paragraph 3.10;
(4) Council be requested to approve the contributions to and from reserves detailed in Appendix 4 to the report and the changes in responsibility for reserves set out in paragraph 3.17; and
(5) Council be requested to approve the amended Capital Programme at Appendix 3.
Reasons for Decision
This report sets out how the Budget, set to enable the delivery of the Council’s priorities, was spent in 2021/22. Setting a sound framework for budget preparation, monitoring and reporting assists in the delivery of all corporate outcomes. The budget was developed within the context of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) and supports all Council Plan priorities (working across boundaries; delivering a balanced community; a fairer South Lakeland; and addressing the climate emergency) through ensuring financial resources to deliver each priority.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
No alternative options are proposed. Not approving the proposed carry forwards or contributions to and from reserves may challenge service delivery during 2022/23 and beyond.
Report author: Claire Chouchoulas
Publication date: 12/08/2022
Date of decision: 04/07/2022
Decided at meeting: 04/07/2022 - Cabinet