To consider the Council’s financial performance for 2020/21 and to approve movements to and from reserves and the carry forward of budgets to 2021/22.
The Deputy Leader and Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder, Councillor Andrew Jarvis, presented the Revenue and Capital Outturn 2020/21 report which set out the Council’s financial performance for 2020/21 and the impact on reserves. He highlighted the extraordinary period with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and praised the hard work of the Finance Team, thanking them for their work during a challenging time. He drew attention to the fact that, despite the complex situation, the Council was in a much better financial positon than had been anticipated earlier in the year.
Councillor Jarvis went on to speak in detail about the Revenue Budget and Capital Expenditure, as outlined within the report.
In conclusion, Councillor Jarvis reiterated that this year end presented a very much smaller deficit in 2020/21 than had been expected. He drew attention to the impact on the Council’s reserves, particularly in the carry-forward. He drew attention to Appendix 1a to the report showing the detailed movement of reserves. Compared to budget, the main changes related to timing adjustments, including carry-forwards and the impact of Covid-19 grants, as well as a large technical item on the National Non-Domestic Rate Adjustment Reserve. As highlighted, however, he explained that there was no longer a need to draw down £2m from the General Fund as had been previously expected. Overall, this meant that the Council continued to be in a strong position with its reserves at the end of the year.
The report had been through both Cabinet on 23 June 2021 and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9 July 2021.
Councillor Jarvis asked Council to approve the contributions to and from reserves detailed in Appendix 1a to the report and was seconded by Councillor Giles Archibald.
Discussion took place, with reference being made to the transition to a Unitary Authority and a question raised as to the state of Barrow’s and Eden’s reserves. Councillor Jarvis explained that it was the County’s financial element that would have the biggest impact in this regard, with around 90% of the expenditure falling within their budget. In response to a question regarding legacy funds, Councillor Jarvis pointed out that the Government was wise to the profligacy of councils facing extinction and that there would be rules put in place on any spending. Councillor Jarvis addressed another query regarding the future of assets for which the Council acted as trustee, some having been inherited from former urban and rural councils and which, it was felt, would be more suited to being held by town or parish councils. He explained that there would be rules on what assets the Council could transfer although acknowledged that there may be assets which would be best managed locally. He stressed, however, that it was the Council’s aim to do what was best for the residents of South Lakeland. The importance of communication between the authorities involved once the Structural Changes Order was made was raised and attention drawn to the establishment of a Shadow Authority which would discuss the finer detail of reorganisation.
It was unanimously
RESOLVED – That the contributions to and from reserves detailed in Appendix 1a be approved.