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Decision Maker: Scrutiny Committee
Made at meeting: 09/02/2021 - Scrutiny Committee
Decision published: 29/03/2021
Effective from: 09/02/2021
The chair explained that there was one appendix that is confidential (A6). It contained officer estimates of costs of the pandemic. If this needed further discussion it would need to be in closed session at the end of the public meeting.
Councillor Rawlins, Cabinet member for Finance, introduced the report.
The budget was constrained by less officer time being available and was very much a Covid-19 budget. That said, bringing together a budget was a major task and the officers were thanked for their work. The Interim Head of finance had set the scene in the paper.
The Cabinet report presented for scrutiny brought together all relevant information to allow Cabinet to recommend to Council a revenue budget for 2021/22 and a capital programme for 2021/22 to 2025/26. It recommended the prudential indicators to be set by the council in accordance with ‘the Prudential Code’ introduced as part of the Local Government Act 2003.
It also contained the opinion of the council’s chief financial officer on the robustness of estimates and adequacy of the council’s financial reserves and contained the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) which provided details of the forward budget model for the next five years.
In last year’s budget, there was a £2.2 million deficit. This climbed to £6.5 million deficit by 2024/25, leaving £7.7 million of unallocated revenue reserves remaining.
This year’s budget assumed that the unallocated revenue reserves at the end of 2024/25 would be £17 million, and £11 million at the end of 2025/26. The burning of reserves was an existential threat long-term. We projected that £21 million of reserves will be used up over the five-year MTFP period.
We will be seeking a long-term sustainable framework from Government to provide understandable security to councils. Addressing these shortfalls was a priority.
There was a corporate plan in place now to guide the future. There was progress on a number of projects despite the limit on resources, and some projects needed to be scoped.
There was some positive progress:
Total net cost of Covid-19 to the council in this budget was £1.9 million.
The Interim Head of Finance reminded the committee that the council had a statutory duty to set a budget.
The chair led the committee through the report page by page, for questions.
Officers were commended for achieving a budget to present in these difficult circumstances.
The committee motioned and voted in favour of noting the contents of the Cabinet report and its appendices.
Decision Maker: Leader of the council
Decision published: 26/03/2021
Effective from: 26/03/2021
To approve arrangements for the allocation of COMF funding which has been allocated to councils by central government to:
a) meet the costs of current needs and additional spend or
b) meet the costs of commitments incurred as a direct result of the outbreak of Covid-19 as set out in The Guidance.