To consider the attached report.
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The Committee received the draft Annual Report and the Financial Statements for the Farnham Park Sports Field Charity for the year ended 31 March 2020. They had been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the CharitiesAct 2011 and had adopted the provisions of Accounting and Reporting by Charities Statement of Recommended Practice and Financial Reporting Standards.
The accounts had been audited by Wilkins Kennedy. Their draft report was included at Appendix 1. It was possible that the report would change once the outstanding audit work had been completed and finalized.
Members were informed that the net worth of Farnham Park Sports Fields Charity had decreased by £342k from £1.006m in 2019 to £0.664m in 2020. The net operating expenditure for the year was £342k compared to £152k in 2018/19. The main reason for the significant movement was a 21% decrease in usage of the golf course, due to bad weather during Autumn and Winter, together with a drop in demand due to a number of courses competing for the same shrinking market. Subsequently, there is also a drop in catering income due to lower footfall.
The introduction of restrictions due to COVID-19 had had a negative financial impact upon the operation of the Charity, with loss of income forecasted to be £355k to date. Measures were in place to recover some of these losses through the Governments’ Support Scheme.
Members commented that while they were content with the accuracy of the accounts, they had concerns that the net worth of the Charity had decreased significantly in recent times. As such, it was suggested that an urgent review of the Charity was required to look at what actions might be taken to ensure it could remain a viable concern and not incur further losses that might need to be funded by the Council. For example, if the golf course catering was making a loss then it could be closed.
An undertaking was given to report back to the Committee’s January 2021 meeting on the financial viability of the Charity going forward and Members suggested that this should include:
· If the Charity continued to make losses, what would then become of the assets.
· What annual contribution was the Council currently making to the running/operation of the Charity?
· What responsibility would the Council have to fund the Charity if it did not have any funds of its own?
· What would happen if the Charity was unable to repay the £1.4m that was owed to the Buckinghamshire Council?
(1) That the audit progress and findings from the external auditors be noted.
(2) That the Service Director (Corporate Finance and Section 151 Officer) be authorized, following consultation with the Chairman, to make any final amendments to the accounts arising from outstanding audit work prior to the approval of the Farnham Park Sports Field Charity Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2019-2020.
(3) That the Chairman and the Service Director – Corporate Finance (and Section 151 Officer), be authorized to sign off the Annual Report and final accounts, subject to no material amendments being required.
(4) That the Service Director – Corporate Finance be requested to inform the relevant Cabinet Member(s) of the Committee’s concerns regarding the financial viability of the Charity.
(5) That a report on the Charity’s financial viability, as discussed at the meeting, be submitted to the next Committee meeting in January 2021.