The Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support submitted a report, the purpose of which was to advise the Overview and Scrutiny Board of expenditure against the Councils revenue and capital budgets, and its performance overall at Quarter One 2017/18, and provide a position statement in respect of Treasury Management and General Reserves.
The Accounting Team Leader and the Corporate Performance Manager were in attendance at the meeting to present the report.
The Board was advised that in terms of Quarter One monitoring projected a very strong set of performance results for the Council in 2017/18.
Following Executives approval of the transfer of projected Adult Social Care savings of £712,000, arising from a one-off increase in funding for this year only, to a Social Care Demand Risk reserve, the overall revenue position at Quarter One 2017/18, which resulted in a projected budget underspend of £374,000 (or 0.33%) continued the trend of minimal variance and again demonstrated that the revised financial management processes introduced during 2016/17 were working effectively.
In line with good practice, the Council had reviewed and updated its Investment Strategy for the period to 2020/21, approved by Executive, and projected capital expenditure of £34.881m against the revised budget of £34.731m in 2017/18 (or 100.4% of the budget), reflected early delivery and some minor re-profiling across the strategy period, with no increase in costs.
The Board was advised that the Councils borrowing stood at £120.4m at 30 June 2017, reduced from £132.4m at Year End 2016/17, due to reduced short-term borrowing.
The Councils projected reserves at 31 March 2018 were £41.8m comprising of £14.6m of general reserves, £20.6m of reserves earmarked for specific purposes, and £6.6m of school reserves. This was in line with the agreed approach of the Council to reduce reserves in a planned manner in order to even out savings requirements across the Medium-Term Financial Plan period, and to fund investment.
The Board was advised that six of the nine Directorates and the Council overall, were currently projected to exceed the corporate standard of meeting 75% or more of perfromance targets. There had also been notable improvements in Education and positive trends in Children's Care. The long term plan was to address performance issues in relation to the in-year collection of Council Tax and Business Rates.
Reference was made to the new risk that had emerged in Quarter One relating to increased uncertainty around the funding regime for local government post 2020 following the General Election held in 2017. The Board was advised that the Council's Medium-Term Financial Planning process mitigated this risk as far as practicable.
The Board was advised that the figures for the following year's funding were usually announced around the end of December and the Board would be updated at a future meeting.
A member referred to the paragraph in the Executive Summary in respect of reduced short-term borrowing and he queried with regard to what steps had been taken to reduce this and whether there were plans to continue with the reduction in short-term borrowing in the long-term.
The Accounting Team Leader advised that he would seek further clarification with regard to this issue and report back to the Board.
A member made reference to Paragraph 11 of the report in relation to the decrease in income of £37,000 from Decriminalised Parking Enforcement and he queried what the term meant. The Accounting Team Leader advised that Decriminalised Parking Enforcement related to on-street parking e.g. parking on yellow lines etc.
A member queried with regard to the cause of the projected overspend of £88,000 on the Marketing and Communications due to the shortfall in income. The Board was advised that it could be as a result in a reduction in sales of marketing work to other bodies. The Accounting Team Leader advised that he would seek further clarification with regard to this issue and report back to the Board.
A member referred to Paragraph 14 regarding the projected overspend of £655,000 which was forecast on the property running costs budgets, with £530,000 of the overspend being due to buildings which were expected to close, but which currently remained open (Vancouver House and Southlands Centre). The member queried how many of the businesses in the Southlands Centre had vacated the premises following receipt of a letter from the Council, and what the financial impact had been. The Accounting Team Leader advised that he would seek further clarification with regard to this issue and report back to the Board.
A member referred to Paragraph 13 with regard to the projected overspend of £149,000 on the Passenger Transport Service budget due to a £212,000 shortfall in the achievement of savings targets for 2017/18, and continued increase in demand and he queried whether the expenditure was related to the items listed in Paragraph 11 of the report.
The Accounting Team Leader advised that the expenditure listed in paragraphs 11 and 13 were from two different budgets however he advised that he would seek further clarification with regard to this issue and report back to the Board.
The Chair requested that the Accounting Team Leader compile all of the additional information requested by members of the Board and forward it to the Principal Democratic Services Officer for circulation to all members of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
The Chair referred to the information contained within the Balanced Scorecard for Public Health and Public Protection and in particular the read and amber categories. The Chair requested that the Director of Public Health and Protection be invited to the next meeting of the Board to provide further clarification in respect of the indicators for Public Health and Public Protection.
ORDERED as follows:
1. That the Accounting Team Leader compile all of the additional information in respect of the Balanced Scorecard report, requested by members of the Board and forward it to the Principal Democratic Services Officer for circulation to all members of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
2. That the Director of Public Health and Protection be invited to the next meeting of the Board to provide further clarification in respect of the indicators for Public Health and Public Protection.