The Interim Director of Finance presented the Financial and Performance Monitoring Report - Quarter 2 2022-23 and in doing so explained that this was the second of such reports presented to Members during this municipal year.
The Executive Committee were advised that in Q1 2022/23 the budget had included £595k of organisational cross-cutting efficiency targets which had not been allocated to services. The projected figure at Q2 was reported as a £369k overspend. It was noted, however that this overspend did not take into account the pay award which had been agreed by employers at £1,925 per pay point. This pay award would result in an extra £700k of pressure on the Councils’ finances and as it was not funded would have to be funded from reserves.
In terms of Capital Monitoring, it was reported to the Executive Committee that projects included in the Capital Programme of £4.1m approved in March 2022 were moving forward. Furthermore, Members were advised that as at Q2 the overall spend was £1.5m of the £4.1m overall budget.
Members were advised that £15.2m of spending would be available as a result of the Towns Fund. In addition to this, it was hoped that the outcome of the Levelling Up 2 funding application would soon be available. Members were informed that the Towns Board had recently met regarding the UK Shared Prosperity funding.
During the presentation of this report Members were reminded that as previously reported any projects that had not been started in Q1 would have to be reviewed. This would allow resource to be allocated as necessary to the Towns Fund and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund projects which were a priority and needed to be delivered within a specific time limit.
Members were informed that one of the recommendations contained within the report, if agreed, would result in the allocation £150k of funding split between HR and ICT. The funding would be used to clear any current backlogs in HR, and to invest in automated and robotics projects in ICT in order to provide more streamlined processes in the future and deliver savings to the Council.
In respect of the HRA, it was reported to Members that currently there was a surplus in the region of £141k which would be transferred to HRA Balances. In addition, Officers noted that its Capital Programme was £10.1m against £14.m budget. Members were reminded that this was a result of a number of projects that had only recently been through the procurement process and that spending would catch up at the beginning of the next financial year.
The Interim Director of Finance advised that the report set out the second series of Performance Indicators for the Council. The areas of collections rates were highlighted for Members’ attention, and it was noted that the collection rates on Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rates were below expected levels. Officers noted that this was expected to continue as a result of the current cost of living crisis.
During discussion of this item Members noted that this was a robust and comprehensive report. Further clarification was requested in respect of the collection rates and Members were keen that any debt management schemes be signposted to local residents. It was confirmed that there were schemes in operation and that the Council, could arrange payment plans for residents who required assistance. In addition to this, it was noted there had been communications produced that contained information of support available during the cost of living crisis. Furthermore, Members were advised that the new Civica Housing system that had recently been implemented would enable the Council to work more proactively with its tenants.
There was a discussion regarding the impact of inflation and Members highlighted the difficulty in predicting what could happen in the future and the importance of remaining cautious when managing the budgets in such an uncertain landscape. Another area that was highlighted by Members was the potential that a higher number of residents may require housing support from the Council in the future due to the cost of living crisis. It was reported that £263k had already been provided in respect of this area and that more funding may be available in the future.
1) the current financial position in relation to Revenue and Capital Budgets for the period July to September 2022 be noted; and
2) the Q2 Performance data for the Period July to September 2022 be noted; and
3) That £150,000 is allocated from the Financial Services Reserve to fund cross council improvements in HR and ICT.