Agenda item

General Fund Budget Monitoring Report - Q3 2021/22


Members were presented with the General Fund Budget Monitoring Report - Q3 2021/22. The Committee noted that there was a forecasted favourable variance of just under £600K for the General Fund for 2021-22.


The Principal Accountant (General Fund) directed Member’s attention to page 86 of the report, which contained an executive summary for the following areas:


  • Revenue
  • Capital


Members were updated on other key areas of financial performance that may impact on the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy, Medium Term Financial Plan, or Financial Statements.


The Principal Accountant (General Fund) fielded questions from Members and explained that:


  • The Lower Tier Services Grant and Services Grant had been combined (the MTFP in Appendix two outlined this) with a total projection in 2022/23 of around £337k. In the current year, the Lower Tier Services grant is around £130k. 
  • Parking income reported an adverse variance, largely due to the continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and changes in the previous behaviour of service users e.g. reduced commuter activity due to working from home, and fewer visitors to the town centre.  The two car parks Horn Yard and Market Place Park had already been removed from the current and ongoing budget due to redevelopment, and thus no income was expected from these two sites. The remaining car parks and the ongoing trends of customer behaviour towards using the car parks would be monitored as part of the budget review process, with a clearer picture known when budget-setting next commences in September/October 2022.

·                 With regard to the Waste Freighter Replacement Reserve; the long term expectation was that in a few years, Government grant funding would become available to assist in the transition of freighter replacement, however nothing has been announced as yet. The budget was approved for the replacement of the waste freighters and as and when external funding was confirmed this would also be factored in. 

·                 The St George’s Arts Centre/Creative Hub opened on 14 December 2021 and the financial impact of the Hub in the current financial year was anticipated to be minimal. Income and expenditure for the Hub would be monitored and reported on as with any other budget line, with the operational aspects of the Hub considered by the Community & Leisure Cabinet Committee.

·                 As a general principal, the Finance Team do not budget for external funding unless there is a high degree of certainty that the funding is to be received.  The ongoing costs of the Hub will continue to be monitored, and it is expected that there will be some income generated through customer events and activities. This information will all be factored into the next cycle of budget-setting due to commence in September/October 2022.

·                 As a further general point, Officers across the Council are encouraged to look for grant funding to support initiatives wherever possible. In recent years, as is the trend moving forwards, it is more common for specific grant funding for services to be made available rather than general grants spanning across Council services. However, some of the funding sources secured by officers would generally only last a few years, and thus it is important to always consider the longer-term impact of decisions on Council finances.


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