Interim Revenue Budget Monitoring Report 2020/21
As detailed in the recommendations, with a third recommendation being added as outlined below:
(3) That UK Government devolve sufficient funding to Welsh Government, to enable it in turn to fully fund the requirements of local government and public services, as set out in recommendation 2.
Councillor Banks introduced the report which provided the first overview of the budget monitoring position for the 2020/21 financial year.
The report explained the impacts of the emergency situation and the significant additional costs and income losses incurred across all portfolios.
The Corporate Finance Manager explained that to date, there had been three significant announcements to meet the financial impacts of the emergency situation in Wales which were detailed in the report. The range of financial risk for 2020/21 was £2.8M to £5.4M (excluding the outcome of the national negotiations over the annual pay award). The figures in the report covered the Council Fund only and did not include the future risks to Aura, NEWydd, Theatr Clwyd and the principal Asset Transfers.
The report provided examples of the emergency actions which had necessitated additional costs, and emergency grant funding. Claims to the emergency grant funding had to be submitted retrospectively, for actual costs incurred, on a monthly basis.
The table in the report showed details of the total claim values submitted, together with the funding received and those elements ‘on hold’ and ‘disallowed’. Further information would be provided to Welsh Government (WG) to challenge the decisions to treat certain parts of the claims as ‘on hold’ or ‘disallowed’. The claim for additional costs incurred in June was to be submitted by 15th July and was estimated to be in the region of £1.750M.
The report outlined the significant variances and financial risks by portfolio and open risks.
Councillor Banks expressed the importance of WG needing to provide clarity of how the shortfall would be met, and clarification on the consequentials arising from UK announcements.
Councillor Roberts asked what measures were put in place internally to reduce cost pressures. The Chief Executive explained that the shortfall was something the authority could not absorb itself and said assistance was needed from both the UK and Welsh Governments as it was Government responsibility to fund the public sector through such a crisis. The Council had paid out £45M of government supported grants and rate reliefs to businesses and remarkable things were being done to protect people.
In response to a question from Councillor Roberts, the Chief Executive explained that Council Tax had not been considered for the following year.
Councillor Thomas commented on how services were still being delivered, albeit some in a different way which was to be commended.
As Chair of Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Carver made the following observations:
“The ongoing coronavirus situation precludes "business as normal" at this time and is the direct cause of the additional costs and income losses. Therefore, my view is that I am satisfied with the report and concur with the Recommendations”.
(a) That the report and the estimated financial impact on the 2020/21 budget of the emergency situation be noted;
(b) That Welsh Government be formally requested to set aside sufficient funds to compensate local government in full for the significant and ongoing additional costs and income losses they have incurred; and
(c) That UK Government devolve sufficient funding to Welsh Government, to enable it in turn to fully fund the requirements of local government and public services, as set out in recommendation (b).