Issue - meetings

2019-20 Full Year financial Performance

Meeting: 22/07/2020 - Council (Item 54)

54 2019-20 Full Year financial Performance (Agenda item 13) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report by Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.


This report has already been considered at the Cabinet meeting on 13 July 2020; however, due to there being recommendations to Full Council the report and appendices have been included on the agenda.

Additional documents:


Councillor Philip Cowen, the Executive Member for Finance & Growth provided Members with a detailed overview of the actual full year financial position of the Council as at 31 March 2020.


Before presenting the report, Councillor Cowen reiterated and echoed the Leaders comments in respect of the tremendous work that all staff had carried out during this crisis.  The Finance Team had pulled out all the stops to produce all the detailed content within the report against a background of having to do much more than their normal day job over the last few months, particularly with all the grants that they had managed and dispensed to the businesses in Breckland.


He drew Members’ attention to a number of factors within the report to highlight where the Council had been and where it hoped and anticipated to head in the future, including:




An above budget spend of £224k despite the fact that the Council had been able to mitigate overspend through judicious use of funds that the Council had and had managed to retain throughout the years. The key reasons for this overspend had been highlighted in paragraph 1.2 of the report. 


This was not a position that Councillor Cowen felt incredibly comfortable with, but he was delighted that due to the judicious husbandry of the Council’s finances over the last few years it was not as high as it could have been.


Paragraphs 1.4 and 1.5 were highlighted and explained.




The actual out-turn showed a spend of £4,579k (71%) against the budget which had been anticipated and the reasons and rationale as to why the 100% had not been reached could be seen in the subsequent tables attached to the report.


Page 37 of the agenda pack included the actual revenue outturn chart and the net effect of moving financial resources from various budgets and reserves meant that the Council was £224k adrift. 


Table 2 on page 38 of the agenda pack highlighted the significant variances and explained the reasons why the Council was in this position.  Housing benefit was by far the largest amount closely followed by the one-off retained business rates. 


The remaining figures contained in the appendices were explained in great detail.


There were a number of recommendations that Members were asked to consider, and it was suggested that these be taken enbloc.


Councillor Atterwill thanked the Executive Member for his comprehensive report.  His question related to the overspend in respect of temporary accommodation due to the lack of affordable housing.  He was concerned that, despite supporting the need for affordable housing, the Council seemed to concede to developers who sought to reduce affordable housing allocations.  He asked the Executive Member if he had any suggestions as to what the Council could do about this to protect the monies in revenue being spent on temporary accommodation.


Councillor Cowen advised that temporary accommodation covered a range of topics and affordable housing was not the Council’s responsibility; it was entirely in the hands of the builders/developers and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54

Meeting: 13/07/2020 - Cabinet (Item 45)

45 2019-20 Full Year financial Performance pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report by Councillor Philip Cowen, Executive Member for Finance & Growth.


Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Finance and Growth presented the report that provided information on the Council’s actual full year financial position as at 31 March 2020.


He thanked the Finance team for the work put in to deliver the report, especially during the period between March to the end of June where Officers had been redeployed to support the businesses of Breckland.


The Executive Member highlighted whilst the Council had an overspend of £224k, it was in a fortunate position to be able to use reserves to mitigate some of those costs which were explained in the report.


The report explained that due to the high overspend, the gain from the National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR) pilot of £559k had been utilised to cover that overspend, and therefore due to the scale of the figure it would have to go to Full Council to be approved.


Whilst the Council had a reserve fund of just under £7m that was unallocated, the Council’s general fund was already at the minimum of £2,500k which he did not want to see drop below that figure.


The actual Capital out-turn showed a spend of 71% against budget which meant the Council had not used all the capital that had been set aside in the financial year to deal with various programmes and projects that were ongoing.


The Executive Member for Contracts and Assets said it was a delicate balancing act, and within his portfolio economic growth would allow the businesses within Breckland to thrive as the country started to emerge out of the COVID19 crisis.  At the same time COVID19 has had a global impact and the District would not be immune to that impact.  He was in agreement with the recommendations and believed it was the correct approach for the Council to follow.


Councillor Birt considered the significant variances and highlighted the Legal Services overspend and was concerned that there were issues with commercial property and asked how, as a Member, he could understand the detail of that overspend and what the issues were, as there could be scrutiny issues to consider.

In addition, in respect of the capital that had not been spent, he noted that the report was dated to 31 March, and therefore the COVID19 crisis did not apply and he was concerned that if the Council was not spending capital that had been allocated during normal times what would happen in extra-ordinary times such as the Council found itself in now.


Councillor Jermy was concerned about the level of overspend and in particular the expenditure of the temporary housing accommodation.  In addition, he raised apprehension that the new property currently being refurbished would do little to reduce costs as it would not be able to take the numbers that the Council would require.  He went onto ask the Cabinet for their plans to address the increased housing costs, given that they were a significant amount.


The Executive Member for Finance and Growth responded to Councillor Birt that he too had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45