The budget Scrutiny Working Group will be pre-scrutinising this report at a meeting on Monday 10th February 2020. Due to the timing of the group’s meeting any recommendations arising from this meeting will be tabled for the consideration of the Executive Committee.
The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources presented the Medium Term Financial Plan 2020/21 to 2023/24 and in so doing highlighted the following for Members’ consideration:
· As Members were aware the Council had been issued with a Section 24 Notice in September 2020 by the external auditors, Grant Thornton.
· In the Section 24 Notice Grant Thornton had raised concerns about the financial sustainability of the Council moving forward. The Council was required to have a realistic financial plan and to monitor the budget and expenditure in 2019/20.
· Officers had been monitoring the Council’s performance in relation to the 2019/20 budget. By the date of the meeting the authority was on track to deliver significant savings by the end of the financial year.
· Throughout the year updates in respect of the Section 24 Notice and the Council’s budget position had been provided to the Budget Scrutiny Working Group and the Audit, Governance and Standards Committee.
· At the start of the financial year the Council had had less than £1 million in balances and this had been a cause for concern for the external auditors.
· Grant Thornton had been clear that Members needed to be able to demonstrate that they could make difficult decisions in order to balance the Council’s budget.
· In 2019/20 a number of difficult decisions had been taken, including in respect of Rubicon Business Centre, funding for Voluntary and Community Sector groups and the closure of the One Stop Shops.
· At the start of the 2019 financial year a financial gap of £1.1 million had been expected for the Council in 2020/21. By February 2020 the Council was anticipating a surplus of £82,000 in that year.
· The £82,000 surplus would be returned to balances which would bring the Council’s budget to a total just over £1 million.
· Savings had been secured in relation to areas such as the Management Review and as a result of a review of the operational model for the Dial a Ride service.
· Proposed changes to the Dial a Ride service would result in a reduction of buses in operation from six to five and the introduction of a voluntary car scheme. There would be no associated redundancies arising from these changes
· The Council’s actuaries reviewed the authority’s pension scheme each year. The investments that had been made for the pensions fund had performed better than expected and as a consequence the Council’s contributions to the pensions fund would not be as great as had originally been anticipated therefore an annual saving had been included in the budget projections.
· During the year there had been capital reprofiling work undertaken in respect of the Council’s Capital Programme. This had resulted in significant changes and savings in respect of borrowing costs.
· The Council had unexpectedly received additional income in the form of New Homes Bonus (NHB) funding for 2020/21. The Government had been very clear that there would be no legacy payments associated with the NHB available to the Council in subsequent years.
· The Council Tax ... view the full minutes text for item 105