Agenda item


The Committee heard from the Business Support Team Leader with a report detailing the Budget and Treasury Monitoring Final Outturn 2021/2022. It was explained that this was the final outturn report following the closure of accounts, subject to the audit of the statement of accounts. In relation to revenue activity, the final position was a net contribution to reserves of £1.612m. £0.828m of which were approved carry forwards into 2022/23. This left a surplus balance of £0.784m. This was an increase in surplus of £0.597m from the position reported to the Committee in April as the quarter four forecast outturn. Details of the movement were listed at section 2.2 of the report, however Members heard that the two significant items which made up this movement were:


1.    New burdens grants of £0.327m, paid to the Council to support the administration of covid support payments – in the main, services had been able to contain the delivery of grants within existing budget provision and it was therefore possible to include this in the overall surplus position at year end. 


2.    there had been a reduction in bad debt provision for Housing Benefits of £0.21m. The Housing Benefits team had worked hard to actively reduce outstanding debt, and had reduced the balance by just under £0.5m during 21/22. Combined with the work they had also undertaken to reduce the instances of new overpayment cases, the level of provision required had significantly reduced, resulting in a positive impact on the revenue accounts.

It was explained that Members were asked to approve that £0.25m of the year end surplus be carried forward into 22/23 to support service resourcing. Due to the current high inflation rates, there was a risk of an increased pay award for 22/23 above the budgeted 2%. The proposed carry forward would provide for a 4% pay award. The remaining balance of £0.534m was to be transferred to the general fund working balance – increasing the balance to £5.4m, which was £2.9m above the minimum working balance of £2.5m.


In relation to the financial impact of Covid-19, there was a balance of £0.691m in the covid support reserve, £0.232m had been committed in future years, leaving an unallocated balance of £0.459m.


In the fees and charges section of the report at 2.4, Members were asked to approve an amendment to the fees and charges schedule for DBS checks included on the schedule for licensing. The fee was set by the Disclosure and Barring service and the Council was notified of the amendment in April. The amendment was a reduction from £44 to £38.


With regard to capital schemes, the final outturn position was £7.812m against a revised budget of £10.326m - £2.838m had been requested as carry forwards into 22/23, and £0.324m being the net overspend on scheme budgets. The main variation from the position reported to Members at quarter four was the carry forward of £0.337m for the cinema land where only the land deposit had been paid in 21/22. Work was ongoing to finalise the acquisition of the site and completion was expected during quarter two.


Members were informed that there had been an increase in spend due to the payment to HMRC of irrecoverable VAT of £0.742m. An appeal against this decision was ongoing on the basis that the breach was an exceptional event, this was a known risk but was considered unlikely. A meeting with HMRC was pending and Members would be kept informed of the outcome.


As detailed within the report at 3.1.4, Members were asked to approve amendments to the following capital schemes:


1)    Thriving Gainsborough grant for cinema development - £0.013m be transferred to revenue for consultants and legal fees, and


2)    The Sun Inn capital grant budget of £0.033m to be reinstated, funded from reserves. This reflected the latest variation of the agreement, allowing for claims to be submitted up to August 2022.

Finally, it was explained that section 4 of the report referred to items where there was a statutory requirement to publish. Section 137 expenditure and the Building Control account were finalised and published on the website after this report was released to the Committee and final versions, as well as the weblink, had been circulated to Members.


The Chairman thanked the Business Support Team Leader and invited comments from the Committee.


With regard to raising interest rates and rates of inflation, the impact on families and those already struggling financially, and in consideration of the general reserves fund standing at over the recommended minimum amount, a Member of the Committee proposed an amendment to recommendation C of the report to read:


‘Members ask that the remaining balance of £0.534million be transferred to an earmarked reserve to be used to support social hardship in the district of West Lindsey, by supplementing the household support fund currently being formulated by Lincolnshire County Council’.


The Chairman acknowledged the concerns nationwide regarding the cost of living and the strain of financial hardship for those impacted, however it was noted that the suggestion would be better discussed as a part of the upcoming Budget Consultation workshops. It was noted that the suggestion be shared with the Director of Corporate Services for further consideration.


In response to a question regarding the costs of fuel for the Council, it was explained that fuel costs were reported separately, with it being a £16,000 pressure across the Council. Members heard this would be reported on in the July report.


There was discussion regarding the recovery of housing benefit overpayments, whether there was a balance point at which it no longer became value for money to continue attempting to recover the debt, this was confirmed to be the case. There was further comment on the use of general reserves and balance transfer decisions, it was reiterated that the upcoming Budget Consultation workshops would be the most suitable forum for such suggestions to be put forward.


Members of the Committee sought clarification on the details of the shopping trolley scheme, with it being highlighted that whilst the Council could charge for the recovery of abandoned shopping trollies, it was not possible to enforce supermarkets to prevent them being abandoned in the first place. The purpose of the continued covid fund was also explained, with some areas of work still experiencing a noticeable impact post-covid and therefore using funds to assist currently.


The recommendations within the report were moved and seconded and, in taking the vote, it was


            RESOLVED that:


a)    the out-turn position of £1.612m gross contribution to reserves against the revised budget for 2021/2022, which included £0.828m of approved revenue carry forwards into 2022/2023, be approved. The remaining balance being a contribution to reserves of £0.784m;


b)    £0.25m be carried forward into 2022/2023 to support service resourcing;


c)    the remaining balance of £0.534m be transferred to the General Fund Working Balance;


d)    the use of Earmarked Reserves approved by the Chief Finance Officer using Delegated powers (Section 2.3.1), be accepted;


e)    the contributions to Earmarked Reserves (Section 2.3.2), be accepted;


f)     the amendment to the fees and charges schedules (2.4) be approved, to be effective immediately;


g)    the final capital outturn position of £7.812m (Section 3); be accepted;


h)    the amendments to capital schemes detailed at 3.1.4 be approved; and


i)     the final treasury management indicators (Section 5) be accepted.

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