Agenda item


A report from the Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities is attached.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member outlined the forecast financial position of the Council at the end of 2022/23 based on the information known at the end of the third quarter, 31st December 2022. The report set out the position for both revenue and capital and provides an analysis of the variances, both under and overspending.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance highlighted the forecast out turn position and forecast overspend at quarter 3 of £3.959m. Members were advised where budgets are overspending work is taking place to identify mitigating actions to bring budgets back into line. This is in line with the forecast at quarter 2 which was circa £4m after allowing for the pay award which has now been paid and the utilisation of the utilities reserve.


Therefore, it is imperative that Departments continue to look to bring forward savings proposals and mitigating actions to reduce expenditure and bring spend back into line but recognise this is more difficult to do as year-end approaches.  However, if the creation of the Children’s £2m reserve is approved as part of the 2023/24 budget this will allow the release of the balance of the childrens reserve currently held which will reduce the year end forecast deficit by £2m.


Highest areas of overspend are:


One Commissioning Organisation £1.4m

This has reduced from the forecast of £1.92m at quarter 2. The forecast overspend is due to slippage on savings delivery and increased demand, partially offset by underspends due to staff vacancies. The mitigation of the £0.7m of Persona savings continue to be a challenge and requires further work.


Children’s Services £6.452m


This is an increase from the £3.5m reported at quarter 2 and assumes the use of £1.5m of the reserve created at the end of 21/22.  The balance was due to be retained to fund the family safeguarding model into next year.  However, this could be released in year subject to the approval to recreate this reserve next year.

£4.784m up from £2.7m at quarter 2 of the overspend is within social care and safeguarding due to increased numbers and complexity of packages and the heavy reliance on agency workers and additional staffing costs. 


Education and Inclusion is also forecast to overspend by £2.117 with circa £1.5m of this being within SEN transport.


Operations Department £3.47m


A slight rise from the £3.15m at quarter 2 and £1.788m up from £1.6m this is due to inflationary pressures on fuel and energy costs.    It should be noted that the utilities reserve is held separately but this is only £1.5m across all Council services.


Members were then invited to ask questions.


·         Councillor Birchmore asked for clarification on the item “Engineers including Parking” table referring to 7D - Operations Directorate


Donna Ball, Executive Director advised this information can be shared following the meeting.


·         Councillor Vernon questioned if this reduction of income is due to loosing income from the flexi hall being built.


Donna Ball Executive Director of Operations advised this is not in the budget it will have an impact in a future year.


·         Councillor Bernstein asked for reassurance that the savings can be delivered


Councillor Gold Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance advised regular meetings are in place, plans will be made on how to deliver the savings and departments will all take accountability for the delivery.


·         Councillor Boles, Children and Young People Scrutiny Chair questioned the residential spaces available being significantly lower that the eligible children and the SEND transport eligibility criteria.


Jeanette Richards, Executive Director for Children and Young People advised the eligibility criteria for SEND transport is done on a case-by-case basis. In addition, members were informed that spend on high-cost provision is a challenge as costs are increasing. For those who require residential care we are looking to place them in family settings.


·         Councillor Boroda asked how the ‘let’s do it strategy’ is helping us?


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance advised members it has developed how we work with communities, how we develop local services and develop local offers.


·         Councillor Vernon asked what new processes have been introduced to effectively to make the savings.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance advised the detailed new processes were presented and the Performance and Finance Sub-Group on the 07.02.23. As part of the finance restructure each department has a finance business partner; there is an executive delivery group to monitor savings; a project plan has been developed; finance reports go to Cabinet and will be reported back on to Overview and Scrutiny throughout the year.


·         Councillor Walsh questioned if there is a transport offer for children who have to travel out of their locality to School.


Jeanette Richards, Executive Director for Children and Young People confirmed that there is no budget for this offer.


·         Councillor FitzGerald, Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee asked about the large vacancy in Adult Social Care


Will Blandamer Executive Director, Health and Adult Care advised he is keen to fill vacancies in Adult Social Care and we have used short term measures to support the vacancies and strengthen the workforce.


·         Councillor Pilkington wished to highlight that often services around statutory services take the pressure off statutory services.


Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance advised that a lot of this early intervention and preventative work is done by the Neighborhood Teams and community working.


·         Councillor Birchmore asked for further information on the highways and housing budget.


In response Councillor Gold advised it is typical the highways work is don’t towards the end of the financial year due to cool dry weather.


·         Councillor Bernstein questioned why the cost of borrowing was estimated so high and resulted in a large underspend.


Councillor Gold confirmed this has now be re-modeled and intends to be more accurate going forward.


It was agreed:


1.    Members note the report.

Supporting documents: