To note the Council’s financial performance for 2019/20 and to approve movements to and from reserves and the carry forward of budgets to 2020/21.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the Revenue and Capital Outturn 2019/20 report which set out in detail the Council’s financial performance for 2019/20 and the impact on reserves. The report had been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 22 June 2020.
In presenting the report, the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder raised the fact that this was an unparalleled time for local government funding. Not only was there the uncertainty over the structure of future funding, but also the ongoing challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. He pointed out that the Finance Team had been fully stretched throughout this period, particularly with their work on large amounts of Government grants being paid through the Council, as well as ensuring control of the Council’s finances more generally at this time. He took the opportunity to thank the Finance Lead Specialist, the Finance Specialist and all in the Team for their work which was a reflection of the professionalism and dedication of the team.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder turned first to the Revenue Budget which highlighted that, after taking the carry-forwards into consideration, the Council had an over-spend of £89,000. He pointed out, however, without Covid, the Council would have balanced the budget for the year.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder next addressed capital expenditure, which showed a significant re-profiling. Of the revised Capital Budget of £7.2m, £4.1m had been spent in the year. The majority of this under-spend related to schemes where the Council was working with other parties or was reliant on other parties. The impact of this re-profiling would be presented in July 2020 as part of the preparation of the Medium Term Financial Plan, which would also include the impact of slippages due to Covid-19 and the related reprioritisation of schemes.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio drew attention to Appendix 1a to the report which showed the detailed movement on reserves and the comparison with the budget. Overall, this showed a little over £2.1m being added to reserves and nearly £3m of reserves being utilised, most significantly for funding the Customer Connect project, prior-year carry-forwards and Locally Important Projects expenditure. The Council continued to be in a strong position with its reserves as of the end of the year. The detailed position by reserve, together with the outlook for reserves, would be presented in the updated Medium Term Financial Plan.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder, in closing, alluded to the more serious issue of the finances in 2020/21 and beyond which he would turn to in July.
The Leader thanked the Finance Portfolio Holder and officers for their work and for the comprehensive report which demonstrated that this remained an ambitious Council with prudently managed finances, particularly during the current crisis.
A vote was taken on the proposals during which all Cabinet Members confirmed that they had, without interruption, heard the full presentation and discussion on the item.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the outturn figures and variance explanations set out in the report and appendices be noted;
(2) the virement relating to the Re-opening High Streets Safely grant set out in paragraph 3.9 and Appendix 1d to the report be approved; and
(3) Council be recommended to approve the contributions to and from reserves detailed in Appendix 1a to the report.
Reasons for Decision
This decision forms a key part of the financial governance arrangements that support all Council priorities.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
No alternative options are proposed. Not approving the proposed carry forwards and virements may challenge service delivery during 2020/21 and beyond.