Agenda item

Revenue Budget Monitoring - Quarter 1, 2023/23

To submit a report by the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer.


The report of the Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer setting out the financial performance of the Council’s services at the end of Quarter 1, 2023/24 was presented for the Executive’s consideration.


Councillor Robin Williams, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Member for Finance presented the report saying that on 9 March 2023, the Council set a net budget for 2023/24 with net service expenditure of £174.569m to be funded from Council Tax income, NDR and general grants as well as £3.780m from general reserves. This includes a total for general and other contingencies amounting to £3. 109m.The budget for the Council Tax Premium was increased by £0.943m, to £2.893m. A balanced budget was set with an agreed Council Tax increase of 5%. As for the previous year, the budget for 2023/24 does not include any requirements on services to make savings. Based on the end of Quarter 1 data, the overall projected financial position for 2023/24 including Corporate Finance and the Council Tax fund is a projected overspend of £0.744m which represents 0.43% of the Council’s net budget for 2023/24. The Portfolio Member for Finance referred to a number of challenges facing the Council at present which are not immediately apparent from the headline figure, these include budget pressures in Children’s Services and Adults’ Social Care, uncertainty regarding the pay offer for 2023/24 which has yet to be settled and the ongoing cost of living crisis which is likely to result in increased demand for Council services. However, it is difficult to accurately project the end of year outturn based on one quarter’s figures alone, and as the remainder of the financial year unfolds, the impact of the above will be factored into future monitoring reports as things become clearer.


The Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer confirmed that much can happen in the nine months to the end of the financial year which will affect the budget. He advised that it is important that the Council reduce the overspend and try to remain within budget at year end in order to safeguard the current level of earmarked reserves and general balances. This will give the Council more options when it comes to setting the 2024/25 budget. Having had discussions at a high level about whether any corrective actions are required to reduce expenditure and whether any direction should be given to services to that effect, the conclusion is that that is not necessary at this point in time. However discussions are ongoing with the Director of Social Services and the Head of Adults’ Services with regard to managing expenditure in those services as the services most under pressure which are driving the overall overspend. The options for reducing costs are limited because most of the Council’s costs are linked to contracts and obligations which the Council is expected to honour and which would be difficult to change during the year. Management will continue to review the financial position closely during the remainder of the financial year and the Finance Service will be reporting monthly to Service Managers from now onwards.


The Executive’s members acknowledged that the financial position is challenging at present and that further, more testing challenges are expected in setting the 2024/25 budget.


It was resolved to note the following –


·      The position set out in Appendices A and B in respect of the Authority’s financial performance to date and expected outturn for 2023/24.

·      The summary of contingency budgets for 2023/24 as detailed in Appendix C to the report.

·      The monitoring of agency and consultancy costs for 2023/24 in Appendices CH and D.


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