Agenda item

Budget Monitoring: Scrutiny of the budget monitoring capital and revenue position at Month 7, setting the context for scrutiny of budget proposals.


Jonathan Davies and Dave Loder presented the report and answered the members’ questions, with additional comments from Cabinet Member Phil Murphy.


To date, has any reclaimed money for car parking been offered to Rogiet Community Council for Severn Tunnel car parking?

We submit quarterly claims to Welsh Government regarding income loss for car parks. The claim is based on actual activity this year vs. last year. We will have to discuss the way forward with Rogiet with the Car Parking manager.

Regarding profits and deficits, there’s nothing in the report about profits from solar panels?

We are underspending against the solar farm and the sustainability section. Our income targets are being met so we are marking the required returns on the solar farm.

Can the position with Capita Gwent be clarified – did we not part company with them years ago?

Yes, the final steps to dissolve the agreement has taken quite a while. This now is very much the final stage of ending the partnership – this is just the final administrative phase, and getting the funds back to the various partners.

Part of the way we’re balancing the budget is by keeping positions open – surely that is not sustainable in the long term for providing services properly?

It is specific to the service. Yes, it is not sustainable long-term but this year, more than ever, with staff diverted to dealing with the pandemic there hasn’t been the resource to fill those vacancies where required. Behind the scenes, we are looking towards the recovery phase and what shape those services need to take at that stage. Those services might look different then, with different demands on them, and we have to be prepared to shape and reform them to meet demand.

For years, we have taken a 2% vacancy factor. It’s a way of sharpening up the department, and enables us to assess whether a post is actually required. If a department has done without the post for a substantial time to achieve that 2% saving then it begs the question as to whether the post should be there in the first place. That was true several years ago but is certainly not true now: a vacancy factor in many departments is no longer appropriate, especially in Social Care. We have accepted this as a pressure.

What are our agency or consultancy costs, therefore?

We don’t have a figure to hand for this committee’s area. Those that have been using agency costs have benefitted from the flexibility of that. In many areas, those contracts have been flexible and we’ve been able to call on them as required. But we know we need to fill the vacancies for long-term sustainability.

There is a £72k saving on streetlights – has the rollout of LEDs been completed? Has the remote switching firm’s contract been removed?

We’re on target to finish the installation completely this financial year. The majority of our inventory will then be LEDs. The £72k underspend this year won’t affect the budget next year – the same amount of budget this year will be carried forward because in the next financial year we will have to pay the full amount of the annual loan repayments.

How will that saving affect the budget for the future of lighting?

The underspend is made up of 3 areas. We’re starting to see the benefit of the LEDs on the reduction of electricity consumption. We’ve also benefitted from an actual reduction in energy price increase this financial year – we have built in quite a large budgeted increase for this year – and we’re seeing the benefit of installing the LEDs and the reduction of energy, but we don’t have to start repaying the loan for some of those LEDs until next year.

Are there any plans to look at lighting facilities in older streets with poor lighting, where LEDs aren’t as efficient?

We can’t really answer this question – it will have to go to the officer.

How long do we have to pay off the loan, and will the budget surplus be sufficient to cover that?

We’re paying off the loan over 15 years, which is the lifetime of the asset. As we don’t increase non-paid budgets by inflation, the only problem we will have is the cost of energy: if it goes up over the next 5 years, we will have to build that into our budget as a pressure.


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