Agenda item


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The Committee was reminded that the budget for 2022/2023 was presented to Cabinet on 9 February 2022 and approved by Council on 23 February 2022 in accordance with the process for approving the financial plan 2021/2026.


It was highlighted that the Council was currently estimating a contribution to the General Fund Reserves of £830,754, a favourable movement of £223,764 against a budgeted transfer of £526,990 increasing the estimated balance as at 31 March 2023 to £9,734,514.


The Capital Programme 2021/2026 was updated at Council on 23 February 2022. The current spend is £18,897,755 against a revised budget of £33,416,370. Major Projects comprises of 59% of the revised budget for the Capital Programme. The Council’s Member Major Projects Board held meetings throughout the year to monitor and receive updates for these projects. Officers of the Council were reviewing the impact on the timing and funding of programme reflecting specifically recovery from the pandemic and inflation.


The budgeted turnover savings for 2022/023 were (£550,000). Following the decision of the Council on 1 December 2022 to finalise its pay award to its employees, an estimate of its impact on employee costs had been included in the report.  As at the 27 January 2023 the Council had 63 vacant posts of which 28 were in active recruitment phases.  Of those note in active recruitment phases at the time, there were 35 in total, consisting of 3 covered by agency workers/contractors, 32 on hold pending further instruction from the service.  The table at 2.3 showed those costs and savings.  The calculation was based on an estimate for the impact of the cost of living pay award, assumed that the current level of vacant posts would remain similar for the remainder of the financial year and estimates the spend on other costs to the end of the year.


The Financial Services Manager presented the Budget Monitoring Report – January 2023 and highlighted the following sections of the report:


·         Summary.

·         Revenue Budget 2022/2023 – Budget Summary, Turnover Savings, Opportunities, Risks.

·         Capital – Budget and Spend 2022/23, Notes to Capital Budget Revisions and Movement table.

·         Reserves – Budget Revisions and Movements:  Ring Fence Reserves, Service Delivery.

·         Age Debt Analysis.

·         Council Tax and Business Rates.

·         Treasury Management 2022/23 – Prudential Indicators, Loans, Investments.

·         Conclusion.

·         Appendix A – Budget Monitoring Variances October 2022.

·         Appendix B – Capital Programme 2021/2026.

·         Appendix C – Limits and Purposes for Earmarked Reserves.

·         Appendix D – Age Debt Analysis – Period 7.


The Assistant Director, Resources responded to questions from Councillor Collingham in relation to turnover savings, recruitment and agency staff fees.


In response to questions from Councillor Morley on number of FTEs and impact on the level of service delivery, the Assistant Director provided an overview on the challenges facing recruitment to posts and the temporary use of interim or agency staff but highlighted that any impact to service delivery was reflected in performance reports.


Following questions from Councillor Rust on turnover savings, holding positions vacant and gap between an employee leaving, recruitment process and gap before new officer appointed, cost of interim/agency staff, the Assistant Director outlined the period of time from when an employee resigned, recruitment process, etc to appoint a successful candidate.  The Committee was informed that a different approach was adopted when specific skills were required it was necessary to obtain the external expertise of a consultant, interim post or agency staff and the daily salary rates could vary from £200 to £1,000 depending on the qualifications or skills required.  The Assistant Director highlighted that a contingency had been built into the budget to provide support to teams and alleviate pressures/stress levels for officers.


The Assistant Director, Resources responded to questions and comments from Councillor Morley on the estimated and actual spend/ringfenced reserves to date on the Capital Programme.  The Assistant Director, Resources explained that a breakdown on how the capital programme was resources was provided as part of the budget setting consultations following questions raised at one of the panels and invited Councillor Morley to discuss the issues raised outside of the meeting.


In response to an observation from Councillor Morley on Councillors receiving regular Monthly Budget Monitoring Reports, the Assistant Director, Resources  provided an overview as to why the Finance Team was not yet in a position to issue the Budget Monitoring Reports each month but explained that officers were constantly aiming to improve.


Councillor Morley further commented on the format of the report and added that in his opinion some service areas should be split into sections and gave an example of Environment and Planning.


Councillor Collingham highlighted the importance of the Committee receiving training to enable Councillors to gain a better understanding during the decision making process.


The Financial Services Manager provided clarification on Note 8 to Capital Programme.


The Chair, Councillor Devereux commented that the presentation on the Council’s reserves had improved and collated in one table and was a significant step forward and would be a good utility in months and years to follow.


At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Mrs Dickinson, Finance Portfolio Holder commented that the Budget Monitoring Report had improved since it was first presented to the Audit Committee and commended the Assistant Director, Resources and the Financial Services Manager on the work undertaken to present the report in a much better format but added that there was always room for improvement.


RESOLVED:  The Committee noted the Period 10 Budget Monitoring Report.



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