Agenda item

Budgetary Control as at 30 September 2023

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer providing information in relation to financial performance over the period 1 April to 30 September 2023.  The report provided an update on a number of areas including the following:

 

·                  Revenue budgets, including the net Service expenditure at Quarter 2 and reconciliation of the original to revised budget;

 

·                  Top Expenditure Areas and Variance – in relation to refuse and recycling a variance against each cost line was attached at Appendix 1 to the report; 

 

·                  Top Income Areas and Variance Analysis;

 

·                  Salary Monitoring as at 30 September 2023;

 

·                  Inflationary impact;

 

·                  Impact on the General Fund Balance;

 

·                  Capital monitoring – Appendix 2 to the report provided the current status and explanations in relation to the capital programme.

 

It was noted that the 2023 / 24 Budget provided for a higher impact of inflation, however budgets remined under pressure.  Although improved since the pandemic, the enduring cost-of-living crisis could yet create pressure on local tax collection rates.

 

During the lengthy debate that ensued, the Interim Chief Finance Officer provided further explanation in relation to a number of questions, this included:

 

·                  The Vacancy Factor was shown separately as a corporate adjustment when reporting employee variances as it was not possible to attribute this at the start of the year. 

 

·                  The Contingency Budget was not allocated for a specific purpose but for any unanticipated spend.  It was noted that it was not projected that this budget would be used for this financial year.  Under the Medium-Term Financial Strategy report, due to be considered at this meeting, Members were being asked to consider whether they wished to continue with this contingency for future years.

 

·                  Pension contributions were centrally controlled and therefore out of the Council’s direct control.

 

·                  Due to new Tenants at the Council offices, the Council was expected to overachieve its budget for lease income.  It was noted that any new tenants would contribute towards the overall running of the building.

 

·                  The Council’s Treasury Management Advisors provided advice in respect of the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy.

 

·                  The Business Rates equalisation reserve had been set up and was being used to manage fluctuations in the Council’s income.  At the beginning of the year when setting the budget the Council was unsure of the Business Rates levels to be achieved, the forecast budget had been overachieved and it was therefore appropriate to drawdown on that reserve to balance the budget for this year.  Without the drawdown the Council would be in a deficit position and these monies would have to be taken from the General Fund.

 

·                  New Homes Bonus was not detailed because this is in the base budget for the year and therefore did not require a specific budget.

 

In response to a question regarding table 3 of the report and those items with no variance, the Interim Chief Finance Officer explained how percentages may look low at this point in the year even though they were on track to be spent by the end of the year.  She agreed to investigate these to give Members’ assurance that the information reported was correct.

 

In response to a question regarding the decision to offer free car parking in Maldon Car Parks for Christmas, the Leader of the Council advised that this was a decision he had made in consultation with the Corporate Leadership Team and reflected what had been agreed in previous years.

 

Some comments were raised in respect of rural settlements and the Interim Chief Finance Officer reminded the Committee that this had been mentioned at a previous meeting of the Committee where it had been agreed that details of on the determination of individual rural settlements for the purpose of Business Rates would be provided to Members.

 

A number of Members expressed thanks to the Lead Finance Specialist for this report.

 

The Chairperson moved the recommendations set out the report and upon a vote being take these were duly agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)                That the forecasted 2023 / 24 revenue financial position as at 30 September as detailed in this report be reviewed;

 

(ii)              that the detailed waste contract 2023 / 24 financial position as at 30 September (set out in Appendix 1 to the report) be reviewed;

 

(iii)             that the forecasted 2023 / 24 capital financial position as at 30 September as summarised in Appendix 2 to the report, be reviewed.

Supporting documents: