This report sets out the overview of the financial Revenue and Capital outturn position for Buckinghamshire Council for the financial year 2020/21 as at quarter 1.
· Cabinet noted the current forecast outturn for the financial year 2020/21 and the proposed mitigating actions to bring the position back into line with the budget.
· Cabinet agreed to delegate to the relevant Corporate Director, in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member(s) and the S151 Officer, agreement on the usage of specific un ring-fenced Covid-19 grants.
Katrina Wood, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources, introduced the Q1 Budget Monitoring Report 2020-21 which summarised the end of Quarter 1 position for 2020-21. The report took into account the pressures relating to Covid-19 and also the business as usual activity. Overall there was a forecast revenue overspend of £5.97 million. This was made up of unfunded Covid-19 pressures of £3.55 million and other pressures of £2.42 million. The Covid-19 pressure took into account the forecast additional costs and lost income of just over £39 million offset by expected government funding of £35.5 million, however, this included an estimated £6.5 million relating to the recent announcement about how government would recompense authorities for lost income. Guidance was still awaited as to how it would be calculated and which income streams would be included/excluded. Therefore, the £3.55 million gap could increase or decrease. The Council continued to lobby government for full recovery of all costs and lost income. In terms of the other revenue pressures in business as usual; the main pressures related to adult learning disability costs, home to school transport costs and staffing pressures within the Planning, Growth and Sustainability Directorate. These pressures were partly offset from within corporate contingencies where some budget had been approved to cover the key financial risks facing the Authority. The Directorates were now looking at mitigating actions to bring their areas back into balance and Appendix One provided the details of variances by Directorate. On the capital side, an overall net slippage of £5.24 million was forecast which was made up of some acceleration of schemes and some slippages. There was an ongoing review of the Capital Programme which would consider a revised profiling of all the schemes in the light of the pandemic. Due to some Covid-19 related funding coming in as an un-ring-fenced grant e.g. the Emergency Assistance Grant for food and essential supplies, there was a recommendation to delegate how this funding would be used to the relevant corporate director in consultation with the appropriate Cabinet Member and the Section 151 Officer; this would ensure that such emergency funding was used in a quick and appropriate manner.
The Leader clarified the difference between Revenue expenditure which was the day to day costs and the Capital expenditure which was a one-off cost which enhanced/purchased an asset.
K Wood added that Appendix Two showed a Covid-19 pressure of £13.55 million which was before the government announcement on the 2 July 2020. It had been estimated the Council would receive £10 million which was why a £3.55 million pressure was forecast. Only £3.5 million had been confirmed and it was estimated there would be approximately £6.5 million from the announced income protection schemes around scales, fees and charges.
The following points were raised and discussed by Cabinet:
- It was noted that it was not just the amount the Council would receive from the Government that was uncertain but also that of our partners e.g. the NHS had received Government funding to facilitate speedy hospital discharges but it was not known if this funding would continue and was possibly another pressure for the Council.
- Rachael Shimmin, Chief Executive Officer, Buckinghamshire Council, reiterated that there were huge uncertainties related to Covid-19 which would impact the budget and the Council would have to respond accordingly.
- The Leader explained that any under-collection of Business Rates or Council Tax would impact next year’s budget.
The Leader invited the following Cabinet Members to provide more detail on some of the pressures faced by the Council:
Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services
Children’s Services were facing a £6.1 million overspend. The following points were highlighted:
- The over 18 year olds were unable to be moved to normal accommodation during the pandemic; single people’s accommodation was difficult to find and work was being carried out with housing colleagues to help with the situation.
- The client costs were expensive and the number of available placements had decreased resulting in children being placed further away from home.
- Special Guardianship Orders were providing a very good check and challenge system; each case was reviewed to ensure that the child received the correct level of care.
- There was concern over a spike in the number and severity of cases when children returned to school in September 2020.
Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills
Home to School Transport had a pressure of £1.5 million; the risk was going down but there could be budget movement due to strategic changes in the department and the uptake by students. The Special Needs budget, was reported as being a £1 million overspend, but the deficit had been made up out of the schools forum budget. There would be an extra £9 million of government funding for Special High Needs in 2021-22. The Leader added that approximately £20 million a year of council tax payers' money was spent on the Home to School Transport Service.
David Martin, Cabinet Member for Logistics, added that there were many unknowns and the Home to School Transport Service was in the process of recruiting to a number of important posts. A large amount of funding had been given to support the Home to School Transport providers and the figures were being closely monitored.
Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement
There was an overspend of £7.6 million for the Directorate budget (not the portfolio budget). The following points were highlighted in the planning and enforcement budget:
- Covid-19 had resulted in a noticeable impact on the income from planning applications and building regulations. It was unknown if there would be a spike to replace the missing income.
- The transformation plan would re-shape the planning department and staff budget of the five legacy planning authorities.
- The base budget and relevant targets for 2021-2022 would be discussed.
Angela Macpherson, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care
There was a forecast variance of £12.6 million for the Directorate which included Public Health and Housing. The Adult Social Care portion of the Directorate’s variance was £10.8 million with £9.1 million due to Covid-19 costs to support the provider market, staffing, extra equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE). The day and respite services had been closed and there had been a one-off expense on equipment and staffing to support vulnerable adults. There was an in-budget pressure in the Learning Disability provision (£1.755 million); there had been a small increase in the number of clients and an increase in the unit cost of supported living and other costs. However, an action plan was in place and the service was on track to deliver the Medium Term Plan savings of £2 million but there were many unknowns. The Leader acknowledged that the Adult Social Care budget was complex as it was interwoven with the health sector and care homes.
K Wood summarised that all the Directorates and Cabinet Members were working hard on the budget pressures and on recouping Covid-19 costs from the Government. The Leader added that car parking charges normally provided an income of £1 million a month and would be re-introduced in August 2020.
· Cabinet NOTED the current forecast outturn for the financial year 2020/21 and the proposed mitigating actions to bring the position back into line with the budget.
Cabinet AGREED to delegate to the relevant Corporate Director, in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member(s) and the S151 Officer, agreement on the usage of specific un ring-fenced Covid-19 grants.
- Cabinet Q1 2020-21 Cabinet Budget Monitoring Reportv2, item 9. PDF 632 KB
- Cabinet Q1 2020-21 Cabinet Budget Monitoring Appendix 1 v2, item 9. PDF 1 MB
- Cabinet Q1 Budget Monitoring - Covid-19 impacts - Appendix 2, item 9. PDF 14 KB