To consider Item 5
The Deputy Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that this report presented the provisional revenue and capital outturn position and debt management performance to 31 July 2020. Table 1 showed the budget and actual expenditure for each Directorate. The budget of £31,339m compared to the forecast outturn of £30.816m gave a forecast underspend of £0.524m. Furthermore, the level of funding was showing a favourable variance of £0.836m which had resulted in a net overall underspend of £1.359m.
The Deputy Director of Finance and Assets advised Members that the Authority’s fuel supplier had provided free fuel for emergency services vehicles between April and June, which had resulted in additional underspend in fuel costs.
The Deputy Director of Finance and assets advised Members that there was also a new table in the report of what the Authority had spent against Covid-19. The Authority had received approximately £91k last financial year, and £606k this financial year in relation to the Covid pandemic. This was additional funding to cover costs that the service may incur. To date, the Authority had incurred costs of around £375k for the year, which had resulted in an underspend of £236k against a budget the Authority had received in 2020/21.
Due to Covid-19, there was a delay in the delivery of four appliances relating to 2019/20, two appliances were to be delivered in January 2021 and two appliances were due to be delivered at the earliest in May 2021. Therefore, a slippage of £200k had been forecast for the final appliance payments in 2021/22. Red fleet appliances were forecasting an underspend of £100k due to collaborating and joint tendering with the neighbouring fire services, resulting in the cost of the appliances being lower than budgeted.
A Member asked if a letter could be sent to BP offering the Authority’s appreciation and thanks for the free fuel. It was agreed that a letter would be sent to BP signed by the three group leaders.
A Member asked if the government could ask for the Covid-19 grant money to be repaid and was advised that the Covid funding was unringfenced and therefore unlikely to be clawed back. However, the expectation by Treasury might be for the Authority to utilise the residual balance with any shortfall in funding next financial year.
A Member asked for clarification regarding the pensions consultation and was advised that this referred to the government’s response to the McCloud/Sargeant remedy which was in relation to the age discrimination. The government was charged with making a remedy to the situation as it was found to have unlawfully discriminated as a result of tapering people into the new scheme based on age. In July, the government published a consultation setting out how they proposed to remedy the situation. That had allowed the Government Actuary Department (GAD) to resume their cost review which had been paused, to undertake a full valuation of the scheme based on this new information and how it would be transferred into a legacy scheme. This would set the future employer contribution rates for the service.
A Member asked due to the Covid pandemic and income steams being affected (unemployment, businesses closing etc.), how would this impact on the Authority with regard to council tax and business rates collections from Milton Keynes Council and Buckinghamshire Council and was advised that in year the Authority would still receive the money it should have received, but the following year, if there was a deficit (or surplus), less (or more) money would be received.
A Member asked a question regarding the People and Organisational Development directorate and part of the underspend being due to a member of staff being on maternity leave and their role being shared between the existing team, were those picking up the additional duties getting paid extra during that period and was advised that the role had been slightly repurposed, so would not be costing anymore.
1. That the latest projected outturn forecast for the Authority as at 31 July 2020 be noted.
2. That £500k is transferred into the Revenue Contribution to Capital Reserve.
3. That £230k is transferred into the COVID-19 reserve.