The Assistant Director, Resources presented the Revenue Outturn 2020/2021 report which had been presented to Cabinet on 21 September 2021.
The report showed details of the major differences between actual costs/income compared to the revised estimates for 2020/2021 reported in February 2021 monitoring.
It was explained that the accounts showed the Borough’s spend of £16,330,894 which was £7,866 less than the revised position following February’s monitoring for 2020/2021. This included a proposal to transfer £1,690,243 to reserves for continued operations in 2021/2022 and a drawdown of £1,083,135 from reserves to fund the budget. This is a reduction of £174,405 to the estimated drawdown of £1,257,540 as reported in February monitoring position, which means the unused amount will remain within the General Fund Reserve balance that will be carried forward to 2021/2022.
The Committee was informed of the impact of Covid-19 on Local Authorities with regard to the deadline for the publishing of draft accounts. The Assistant Director, Resources advised that the Accounts and Audit (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 had subsequently relaxed key reported deadlines for local authorities as set out in Section 1.1 of the report. It was highlighted that the Finance Services function had been working extremely hard to try and comply with the revised deadlines. However, Covid-19 and continuing strains on resources had continued to adversely impact the outputs, details of which were set out at Appendix 4.
The Assistant Director, Resources outlined the key issues within the report.
In response to questions and comments from Councillor Ryves on the format of the report not being user friendly, the Assistant Director, Resources invited Councillor Ryves to attend a meeting outside of the committee to discuss the format going forwards.
Following further comments from Councillor Ryves on the format of the report, the Assistant Director, Resources provided an overview of how the current format of the report had been put together from each service area. The committee was advised that Appendix 4 set out a summary of Covid spend ant loss of income as reported in the previous monitoring reports during 2020/2021 and reiterated that it would be useful to discuss with Councillor Ryves expectations going forward and what officers could to provide the committee with a better understanding of the information presented.
Councillor Collingham concurred with the comments made by Councillor Ryves on the current format and that it was difficult to absorb the information and tease out the relevant issues. She added that a summary document would be helpful to enable the committee to look at anomalies, check when things slipped as well as positive outcomes.
Councillor Rust concurred with the comments made by Councillor Collingham.
Councillor Collingham further added that it would be useful to have had a summary table in relation to Covid expenditure setting out the amount of funding received from Government, spend to date, funding left over and to include any set of bodies which had not received help and support.
The Chair stated that there was a common theme amongst the committee that a user friendly summary document would be helpful.
Councillor Morley stated that he supported the comments which had been made but referred to the checklist of questions which could be used in the executive summary would be sufficient to provide a statement to the committee and gave an example of council tax collection rates.
The Assistant Director, Resources advised that the comments made had duly noted and would discuss them with the Financial Services Manager and see what could be achieved.
The Assistant Director, Resources responded to further questions from Councillor Ryves on the grants received and mechanisms in place with regard to Alive West Norfolk
The Assistant Director, Resources responded to questions from Councillor Collingham with regard to the contained outbreak management fund spending plan and monitoring arrangements and potential utilisation of some of the funding in relation to the homelessness costs which the council had incurred.
In response to questions from Councillor Rust regarding the money spent on security regarding the homelessness service, the Assistant Director, Resources advised that there were ongoing discussions on homeless expenditure and that there was a potential allocation which may address the issues raised but that she did not have the details available. It was explained that the council would review the situation and see what residual amount was incurred by the council.
Councillor Devereux referred the Committee to Appendix 4 – Covid Spend and Loss of Income and added that the table set out the total amount of extra expenditure and how it was dispersed as well as compensating for the loss of income and that the information would help to answer the questions raised earlier in the meeting.
Councillor Ryves asked it if was possible for the committee to receive a schedule setting out the loss to the Borough Council. In response, the Assistant Director, Resources explained that the figures were contained in the table on page 51 of the report together with a paragraph explaining that the Council received Sales, Fees and Charges grant income of £2,354,720 in total which partly offset the loss of income. The Assistant Director, Resources further explained that the scheme allowed for 75% of 95% of the loss to be claimed with the Council required to absorb the first 5% of loss but that not all costs were eligible to be claimed.
In response to questions from Councillor Collingham on the loss of income of car parking fees, the Assistant Director, Resources explained that the period reported on was from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 when the lock down restrictions had required people to stay at home. However, when the restrictions were eased there was a significant number of tourists visiting the resort areas which saw resort car parking do well but town centres were still recovering.
Following further questions from Councillor Ryves on the expected loss of income and how this would be compensated, the Assistant Director, Resources provided an overview of how the grant was claimed and referred to the email she had received from Councillor Ryves and invited him to discuss the issues raised outside of this evening’s meeting.
In response to the questions raised by Councillor Devereux on the loss of income relating to recycling and refuse collection, the Assistant Director, Resources confirmed this was principally in relation to trade waste.
The Chair thanked the Assistant Director, Resources for presenting the report.
RESOLVED: The Committee noted the contents of the report.