Agenda item

2022/23 Budget monitoring - Outturn Report

To scrutinise the Revenue and Capital Outturn reports for 2022-2023.


Rachel Garrick and Jonathan Davies introduced the report and answered the members’ questions with Peter Davies and Jane Rodgers.


Key points raised by the Committee Members:


·       The following points were noted from the Revenue Budget Early Update for 2023/24:


-        £2.6 million of revenue budget pressures

-        Planned application of £2.5 million of useable reserves to finance pressures.

-        Strategic Leadership Team required to engage in immediate mitigating action.

-        Officers required to develop structured approach to tackling pressures.


·       It was also noted that in Table 1 of the report there are £6.1 million of actual underlying indicative early pressures in addition to the £2.6 million, which include:


-        Children and Young People – £687,000

-        Social Care and Health - £3,001,000

-        Communities and Place - £1,513,000

-        Corporate, Treasury and Finance - £710,000

-        Further major pressures arising in Waste; Care Providers; Homelessness (of which additional security measures at £75,000).


·       Request for further explanation about the capital slippage of 42%.

·       Whether for the coming year, all income generating opportunities have been considered.

·       Whether in terms of the Capitalisation Directive, with delays in Replacement Local Development Plan, we will have delays in capital receipts and how the Cabinet sees that unfolding, and whether it is sustainable at the current level.

·       Noting the underspend implications: in terms of vacancies and the impact on performance of these areas.

·       Noting that Newport leisure park is operating at a loss of £109k and questioning whether it is time to take a long-term view of the leisure park and review learning from the purchase.

·       Concern that Castle Gate is operating at a loss.

·       In view of the overspend in Children’s Social Care, whether there is a particular issue in terms of realistic forecasting. Asking how closely the Finance Team works with Children’s Services, given that it has the largest overspend.

·       Clarifying the number of children in the looked-after care system and asking whether numbers have increased. Whether the complexity of cases is increasing, and therefore driving the costs.

·       Concern around how the Council can safeguard against running into deficit and whether the Cabinet Member is confident that strategies are in place to stop us delving into reserves.

·       Noting that concerns are being raised relating to the budgetary position at Month 2.

·       Noting the 5-year reserves reduction of 33%, questioning how much vulnerability that will bring after 5 years.

·       Clarifying the £1m Reserve insurance and risk, questioning why this is so high.


Chair’s Summary:


Through the scrutiny of the 2022/23 Budget monitoring – Outturn Report, specific important questions have arisen in relation to waste services cost management, bank holiday cover, food standards and costs in Free School Meals. Members heard that staff resources are being stretched and causing stress for those in service, with staff reductions in our community hubs and staff needing to apply greater flexibility in roles.

Questions have been raised around the approach being taken by the cabinet towards balancing sound financial management with service demands – given that if control over finances is lost, it would create a very serious situation for all services. It has been noted that the cabinet has moved £3.5 million from reserves at the end of the 2022/23 year and plans to move a further £2.5 million from reserves to cover new pressures. Members have expressed concern that the rate of reserves’ depletion is unsustainable and that whilst these are challenging times, it is important that the Council addresses the service overspends and redesigns services capable of being delivered within service budgets.  Members expressed a view that reserves could be better used to redesign and transform services, rather than balance the financial budget.


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