To consider a recommendation from Cabinet to note the revenue outturn position and approve the updated Capital Programme.
Further to Minute No. 31 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 20th July, 2020 consideration was given to the report which detailed how the final outturn position was a balanced budget which required £2.0m less use of corporate reserves than planned for. The original budget was supported by budget contingency reserves of £3.2m. Additional funding received in year, use of earmarked reserves and flexible use of capital receipts had resulted in a reduced call on the reserves of £1.2m leaving a balance of £2.0m to support the budget in later years.
The Council continued to face demand pressures, in particular in respect of Social Care. This coupled with the significant financial challenges the Council’s response to Covid-19 would bring, as reported in detail to Cabinet in June 2020, meant the outlook was very challenging.
The Council’s General Fund minimum balance had been increased to £20.700m as planned and set out within the Council’s Reserves Strategy reported in the Budget and Council Tax Report 2020/21. The reserve was held to protect the Council against unforeseen events and realisation of contingent liabilities.
The Housing Revenue Account had an underspend of £2.9m, however, the revenue contribution to capital outlay was increased by £0.2m. Therefore, the net budgeted use of HRA reserves reduced by £2.7m.
The schools outturn position, funded by the ring-fenced Dedicated Schools Grant had an underspend of £1.968m.
The capital outturn showed slippage and underspend of £6.3m against the estimated spend for 2019/20 included within the Capital Programme.
Councillor Carter regarded this typically as overspending on the budget with huge overspends in Children’s Services during 2019/20 before the COVID-19 pandemic. This administration was trying to claim the financial outturn was a success when it was just fudging figures in the budget and in the statement presented. It was clear the Council could not manage a budget, failed to meet its obligations year after year and used precious reserve funds. If it could not manage a budget last year what hope did it have in managing one in the middle of global pandemic. He was, therefore, unable to support the report.
Councillor Alam explained the Council had worked through difficult circumstances and simply could not predict numbers of children or adults who needed support and had to meet its obligations. It was disheartening when colleagues made political comments rather than working to move the town forward.
Councillor Cowles supported Councillor Carter’s comments. Comparatively Barnsley was able to manage its budget and was underspent in areas of Adults and Children’s Social Care. This just highlighted the failure of this organisation to stick to rigorous management processes and indicated a clear failure of management.
Councillor Alam reiterated that with the overspends in both adult and children’s social care both Cabinet Members had worked tirelessly to deliver to vulnerable groups and this Council would not allow legacy issues to return or let vulnerable people down.
Resolved:- (1) That the updated financial position as detailed in the report be noted.
(2) That the updated Capital Programme as set out in paragraphs 2.58 to 2.66 and Appendices 1 to 4 of this report be approved.
Mover:- Councillor Alam Seconder:- Councillor Read