Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets (copy enclosed) detailing the latest financial position and progress against the agreed budget strategy.


RESOLVED that Cabinet note the budgets set for 2020/21 and progress against the agreed budget strategy.


Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill presented the report detailing the latest financial position and progress against the agreed budget strategy as outlined below –


·        the net revenue budget for 2020/21 was £208.302m (£198.538m in 2019/20)

·        an underspend of £0.718m was forecast for service and corporate budgets

·        highlighted current risks and assumptions relating to individual service areas

·        outlined the financial impact of coronavirus and position on claims to the Welsh Government (WG) to date together with other WG Covid related grant funding

·        detailed required savings and efficiencies of £4.448m agreed including corporate savings relating to triennial actuarial review of Clwyd Pension Fund (£2m); 1% schools savings (£0.692m); service savings (£1.756m)

·        provided a general update on the Capital Plan, Housing Revenue Account and Housing Capital Plan.


Councillor Thompson-Hill guided Cabinet through the various elements of the report and movements since the previous month. The movement on service and corporate budgets to a forecast underspend of £0.718m (overspend of £1.759m last month) largely reflected the Quarter 3 loss of income grant and additional Covid related grant funding received from Welsh Government (WG).  The movement in corporate budgets showing an underspend of £1.867m reflected the forthcoming WG funding to offset the full year impact of Covid on the Council Tax Yield and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme but mainly related to a new allocation of WG funding (£1.663m) recognising the pressures of reacting to Covid on the council as a whole.  It was recommended any overall underspend, taking into account service requests to carry forward specific service underspends, be placed in the Budget Mitigation Reserve to help the continued response to Covid and budget process for 2022/23.


The Head of Finance advised that the amount of grant funding from WG was likely to exceed £20m for the council directly which did not include financial support given to businesses.  An overspend of £14m had been estimated at the start of the year and the positive impact on the financial position had been achieved by partnership working with WG and the financial strategy set out in response to Covid-19.


Councillor Thompson-Hill also took the opportunity to update members on the latest tranche of WG business grants announced on 12 March and administered by the council and again paid tribute to the tireless work of staff involved in the swift processing of claims to over 1300 businesses amounting to some £5.5m of support.  Other members echoed those sentiments and the Lead Member agreed to pass on members’ appreciation and positive comments received from businesses.


The Lead Member and Head of Finance responded to questions as follows –


·        Councillor Hugh Irving queried the processes to safeguard against payment of fraudulent claims and was advised of the checks undertaken in that regard with further work ongoing with Internal Audit and National Fraud Initiative.  Grants had been based on NNDR which guarded against bogus companies although there was a smaller discretionary element for micro business who did not pay NNDR.  Given the element of self-certification involved in the process and quick release of funding it was possible that there could be incidents of payments issued when they should not have been which may result in reclaiming of grants

·        it was clarified that whilst the year end position had not yet been reached and was subject to change the current projection was an underspend of just over £700k.  Councillor Joan Butterfield highlighted the dire financial position and projected overspends earlier in the financial year and turnaround to a positive position due to the grant funding provided to the council by Welsh Government.


RESOLVED that Cabinet note the budgets set for 2020/21 and progress against the agreed budget strategy.


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