The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources presented the Council’s Financial Outturn Report 2019/20 and Reserves and in so doing highlighted the following information for Members’ consideration:
· The report had been presented to the Executive Committee slightly later in the calendar year than usual due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
· The majority of services were underspent when compared to the budget that had been set in the MTFP for the financial year.
· In part, these savings could be explained because the MTFP had been agreed before the Section 24 Notice had been issued to the Council and therefore significant changes had been made since the budget was set, resulting in the financial savings.
· The savings that had been secured would be returned to balances, which would help the Council to address one of the concerns that had been raised by the external auditors in the Section 24 Notice.
· The one exception to this was expenditure in respect of the strategic purpose ‘help me run a successful business’, where there had been an overspend of £486,000. This was largely due to a significant loss of income for Rubicon Leisure Ltd from January 2020 onwards, due primarily to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
· The Council had budgeted to spend £9.8 million in the capital budget but there had been an underspend of £6.9 million during the year. The Corporate Management Team (CMT) had been concerned that this was not acceptable and therefore Officers were working to ensure that this did not occur again in future.
· Savings had been achieved in relation to the HRA so only £26,000 had been required from balances to balance the budget for the year, meaning that the Council retained more than the minimum level of balances.
· However, there remained concerns about levels of expenditure for the HRA and this would need to continue to be carefully managed moving forward.
· The Council would be putting up to £1.3 million into reserves which would help to ensure the sustainability of services moving forward.
· The Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources would be requesting an additional meeting of the CRWP in due course to discuss further delegations to the Section 151 Officer in respect of grants provided to the Council.
· A new fee was proposed for customers undertaking journeys on a Dial a Ride vehicle for medical appointments. This fee had been proposed because the journeys tended to involve delivering and collecting a single customer and therefore were more expensive for the Council.
Members subsequently discussed the report and commented on a number of points in detail:
· The budget that had previously been agreed for the new IT system for Environmental Services and the reasons why additional funding was now required. Officers explained that previously a request had been made for a certain amount of capital funding, based on external advice, but it had since become clear, based on market testing, that additional funding would be required.
· The timeframes for the introduction of a new Environmental Services IT system. Officers explained that it would take at least 12 months, after the procurement of a system, to obtain some functionality.
· The length of time that the Council might use the IT system for and the need for the Council to have access to IT systems that would enable the authority to operate as a modern business.
· The potential for this system to be integrated with other Council IT systems and the need to have access to the right type of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to achieve this.
· The potential for a section on IT integration to be a mandatory part of Committee reports when Members were discussing documentation relating to IT programmes. Officers explained that the Council’s report template was in the process of being reviewed and that this suggestion could be taken into account as part of that process.
· The value of jointly procuring a new IT system for Environmental Services with Bromsgrove District Council, as a consequence of the authorities’ shared services arrangements.
· The procurement process for obtaining a new IT system for Environmental Services.
· The need for the new IT system for Environmental Services to enable staff to undertake mobile working.
· The level of overspend on the strategic purpose ‘help me run a successful business’. Members noted that there was a typographical error in the report and the actual figure was £486,000.
At the end of the debate Members noted that this would be the last meeting of the Executive Committee that the Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources would attend before leaving the organisation. Members thanked the Executive Director for all her hard work over the previous years, particularly in respect of responding to the Section 24 Notice and Members passed on their best wishes for the future.
1) the current financial position in relation to revenue and capital budgets for the year April 2019 – March 2020 as detailed in the report be noted.
RECOMMENDED to Council
2) approval of the movement of £1,105k in existing reserves;
3) the addition of new reserves of £1,380k;
4) the carry forward to the 2020/21 capital programme of £6,749k;
5) approval of the inclusion of the Town Deals fund revenue grant of £173k in 2019/20 together with all associated costs;
6) an increase to the revenue budget for 2020/21 due to receiving £40k SEP Grant (Strategic Economic Plan);
7) a capital grant to Worcestershire County Council for improvement works at Holly Trees Children’s Centre leased by Redditch Borough Council (Parenting Support) of £15k in 2019/20;
8) an increase in the 2020/21 Capital Programme of £839k for Disabled Facilities Grants. This is due to the budget allocations having now been announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG);
9) the following additional new fees for Dial A Ride be introduced for 2020/21:
a) Dial A Ride Medical journey £4 with concessionary bus pass
b) Dial A Ride Medical journey £5 without concessionary bus pass
10) to increase the management fee to Rubicon Leisure by £413k from other service savings in 2019/20. This is to offset the shortfalls in income that the company has faced in 2019/20;
11) an increase in the 2020/21 Capital Programme of £12k for the HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) Lifetime Loans Budget. This is due to the growing need for HMO type accommodation across the Borough to meet the need of single persons and those on low incomes; an
12) an increase in the 2020/21 Capital Programme of £119k for additional funds towards the already approved capital project for Environmental services new IT system.
(During the consideration of this item, Members discussed matters that necessitated the disclosure of exempt information. It was therefore agreed to move to exclude the press and public prior to any debate on the grounds that information would be revealed relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information). There is nothing exempt, however, in this record of proceedings.)