Agenda item

Quarter 4 Budget Monitoring 20221/22 (Outturn)

To consider the attached report.



The report was introduced by C Hartgrove, the interim chief finance officer. He noted that the report set out the 2021/22 General Fund and Housing Revenue Account positions for both revenue and capital, as at 31st March 2022, which represented the Quarter 4 (Outturn) for the 2021/22 financial year.


The figures included within the report were still subject to external audit and so should still be considered provisional at this stage.


In terms of General Fund revenue expenditure – at the Quarter 4 (Outturn) stage – a budget underspend of £0.992 million had been recorded, with net expenditure of £15.877 million against an overall budget provision of £16.869 million.


The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) revenue position was presented in Section 3 of the report. Although there were some pressures in the year (most notably an overspend of £901,000 on Repairs and Maintenance), a planned surplus of £2.059 million was achieved and was to be applied to supporting the 2022/23 budget, which forms part of the strategy in the new HRA Business Plan. 


The General Fund Capital position is covered in Section 4, showed underspending (Programme slippage) of £46.767 million from originally profiled spending of £72.443 million in 2021/22. The single largest factor is the slower than anticipated drawdown on Qualis loans (impact £41.767 million).  


Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked about the £0.5 million savings which came from vacancies. Was this hampering the delivery of projects? And, recycling, was it volume or value that makes a difference, and would this continue into the current year? He was told that the salary savings was dominated by slippages in projects, so this was delaying recruitment to resource projects and not a case of not delivering services. Waste management spending had been identified later in the financial year. One of the regular payments got out of sync during the pandemic (with them owing the council some £225k), which has now been rectified. With regards to recycling income, he was not sure as to the finer points, other than quarter 3 projections were more pessimistic than actually turned out to be at year end.


Councillor Bassett thanked officers for their work over the past difficult year. He was concerned by the differences from the forecasts to the actuals. Were we more confident in this year’s forecasts? Councillor Philip replied that we had poorer balances last year than we intended to have and as such we needed the ability to pull in £1.35 million from our reserves. In the end we significantly reduced our spending last year to bring us in under budget. He always said that our budget was a ceiling, and we should not go over that. Our budget was a target and to come in under budget was a good news story and the work we will be doing in the coming months will give us the ability to come in under budget once again this year. But this year’s budget will be more difficult than last years. It will be more challenging this year.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked if officers could expand a bit more on the land and property changes, in particular the late cancellation of the rental invoices and the lower rental incomes. Was this because it was harder to fill the vacant properties or because rents have been coming in at lower levels than we expected. C Hartgrove did not have a detailed answer to this, but he knew that several invoices were cancelled towards the end of the year were incorrect. This emerged late in the financial year during the 4th quarter. Councillor Philip added that we have had challenges on several properties throughout the pandemic. We had no recourse to the courts in terms of people failing to pay. But the vast majority of our challenges have been with multi nationals rather than with our local businesses. We have also had problems with our bad debts system which are currently being resolved. And we now have recourse to the court system once again.


The Chairman asked if the invoice errors were partly due to technological errors. He was told that there were a number of different things that worked together including some technological problems.


Councillor Jon Whitehouse asked when would we know if there would be a problem for this year. He was told that this was unknown at present, but it looks like the systems were working properly now. The Asset Management Team were working hard on this, and the right things were being done.




That the Select Committee noted and commented upon the Quarter 4 Budget Monitoring Report.



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