The Committee heard from the Business Support Team Leader regarding a report setting out the final budget outturn position for revenue and capital 2020/2021, and requesting approval for transfer to General Fund working balances. She explained that Council approved a revenue budget, including Council Tax charges, for 2020/2021 of £14.357m at its meeting in March 2020 (£14.783m 2019/2020). There was no requirement to utilise the General Fund Balance to provide a balanced budget. The budget was revised in November 2020 to £20.525m to reflect the significant impact Covid-19 was having on both income and expenditure. The actual outturn had realised a surplus of £2.783m, £1.414m of which related to one off budget provision for the delivery of projects which spanned financial years and would therefore be carried forward. This left a remaining surplus budget of £1.369m (7% of the Revised Revenue Budget) to be transferred to the General Fund Working Balance, which now stood at £7.338m. The total amount of the General Fund Reserves was £26.546m (£20.020m 2019/2020).
It was explained that the forecast outturn position for 2020/2021 was presented to this Committee on 15 April 2021 as part of the Budget and Treasury Management Monitoring report for Quarter 4 2020/2021. The forecast outturn position at that time, for Business as Usual activity, was a net contribution to reserves of £0.540m. It was reiterated that the purpose of this report was to present to Members the final outturn position for the year, following the closure of accounts. The final outturn position was a net contribution to reserves of £1.389m, an increase of £0.849m from the previous forecast.
With regard to Capital, it was explained that the capital outturn position for 2020/2021 had moved since the Quarter 4 reporting. The outturn was £9.034m variance against revised budget of £14.113m. Final net carry forwards totalled £4.955m (£5.442m Quarter 4). The main scheme variation related to the Depot, due to the pace of construction being faster than anticipated, therefore Work in Progress accruals were higher than forecast. £0.124m was the final net underspend position on scheme budgets.
The Chairman thanked the Business Support Team Leader for her summary and invited questions from the Committee. There was discussion regarding the reduction in the credit loss provision for Housing Benefit debt, which was explained to be in relation to the way in which calculations had been undertaken in previous years, as well as there being a 95% subsidy on housing benefit. With regards to the capital grants figures, it was explained that the grant funding agreement for the Sun Inn expired in August 2022 and the business case had included expenditure of selling the property.
Members enquired as to the impact of fuel prices, which was explained to be reflected in the quarter one report for the current financial year, as well as the details around the planning fee income. It was stated that it had been anticipated for this to have reduced, as a result of the pandemic, however that had not been the case and applications had picked up towards the year end. Again this would be reflected in the quarter one report.
In relation to staffing, with a lower than expected outturn, it was enquired whether this was as a result of limited overtime rather than holding vacancies. It was noted that this was due to delayed recruitment because of the pandemic.
There was discussion regarding the cost of replacing lost bins for residents and it was requested for the Democratic and Civic Officer to identify further information regarding this.
Following further discussion amongst Members regarding the impact of the pandemic on all areas of the council and how this reflected in the financial reports, the Chairman read aloud the recommendations within the report. Having been proposed and seconded, it was
a) Members accept the out-turn position of £2.783m gross contribution to reserves against the revised budget for 2020/2021 (£3.240m against the original budget); and
b) Members approve £1.369m be transferred to the General Fund Working Balance; and
c) Members accept the use of Earmarked Reserves approved by the Chief Finance Officer using Delegated powers (Section 5); and
d) Members’ accept the final capital outturn position of £9.034m (Section 3); and
e) Members’ accept the final treasury management indicators (Section 6).