Agenda item

Estimates 2012/13 (Agenda item 8)

Report of the Assistant Director, Finance.

Minutes:

The Accountancy Manager presented the draft estimates for 2012/13 to the Committee and sought Members’ views on the main assumptions and risks as set out.

 

A presentation was provided and paper copies were circulated (a copy of the presentation slides are attached for Members’ information).

 

The following points and comments were noted:

 

Revenue Budget & Efficiency Requirements

The opening efficiency requirement position for 2012/13 had been £1.3m - the current efficiency requirement now stood at £666,430.  The major cost pressures to consider had been interest rates, commercial property income, which had been less than what had been anticipated, the income from the Anglia Revenues & Benefits Partnership and the loss of interest from the new Capital Programme.  The recent changes to pensions were shown as a cost pressure since the budget had been presented to the Executive Board but was not a ‘true’ increase.  The Chairman thought it would have been helpful to have seen some background details on these matters.  It was agreed that the information would be emailed to Committee Members accordingly.  Mr Kybird felt that the change in treatment to pensions needed to be understood and agreed that much more detail was required.  The Accountancy Manager explained how the changes to pensions had come about which had initially been misinterpreted by Finance when the budget had been first presented to the Executive Board; however, it was not a true increase when compared to the previous years budget estimates.  Whilst discussing salary and pensions issues, Mr Wassell reported that Group had been given the wrong impression in relation to the figures at their meeting the previous evening.  Mr Ludlow felt that the pension scheme figure should be shown differently and should, in his opinion, be considered as a virtual variance thus having a different in-treatment.  He then explained how the pension fund worked and how it had been set up.  After further debate it was agreed that the pension deficit needed further explanation as it had been incorrectly reported.

 

Capital Programme

 

It was noted that the funding for the Moving Thetford Forward Riverside Regeneration project would be going forward to Council for approval but the figures had been included for budget purposes.

 

The Chairman felt that the budget papers seemed to be full of expenditure and felt unbalanced.  Members were informed that there would be potential revenue to be gained from the Riverside Project.

 

Capital Programme Risks

 

The cash available for capital projects was not reliant on Icelandic investments being repaid.

 

Reserves

 

The Council had healthy reserve levels but they could not be used for long term support.

 

What Next?

 

The draft budget was currently on the Council’s website for consultation.  The Executive would be providing further direction on efficiency measures.

 

The final budget would be presented to Cabinet on 10 January 2012 followed by Council approval on 19 January 2012.

 

Mr Stevens queried the vacancy rates and asked for the position on compulsory redundancy if targets could not be met.  Members were informed that the Council was going through various departmental restructures; as far as compulsory redundancies were concerned, the Chairman had never known of any since being elected and he was not aware of any policy changes to that affect.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

 

Supporting documents: