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Agenda item


To consider the report of the Director of Resources on the Provisional Revenue Outturn for 2020/21 compared with the approved budget and the capital expenditure in the year ended 31 March 2021 with sources of funding.


Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, presented the provisional revenue outturn for 2021/2022 and highlighted that the Covid-related overspend totalled £3.16 million, which was a much improved position than early forecasts which had estimated an overspend of up to £30 million. He noted that whilst Children’s Services had overspent by £1.2 million, the underspend by Adult Social Care had resulted in an underspend of £1.8 million across the social care services provided by the Council.


In relation to working balances the Council had ended the year above the target of £6 million and earmarked reserves had also increased to £71 million. It was reported that the increase in earmarked reserves was primarily due to £15 million in business rates relief received in 2020/2021 but to be allocated in 2021/2022 and the external funding which had been received for the development of the museum. Mr Thompson added that the Council had received a total of £166 million in Covid-related grants.


There had been a significant impact on Council Tax and Business Rate collection during the pandemic with in-year Council Tax collection rates in the town the third lowest in the country at 87.8%. Business Rate collection had similarly dropped from 95.6% to 85.8%, the fourteenth lowest in the country. Mr Thompson advised that once the economic position of the town had improved, missed payments would be targeted with an emphasis on collecting payments from those that could pay but had chosen not to.


Mr Thompson raised concern that, despite the statement of accounts being finalised by the Council for the financial year ending March 2021, the external auditor had indicated that they would not be able to meet the deadline of September 2021 for final sign-off of the accounts and that it was likely this would happen in November 2021. In response to a question Mr Thompson noted that deadlines for final accounts had been aligned across sectors resulting in increasing demands on external auditors which it appeared could not be met.


Members noted the underspend in Community and Environmental Services and queried whether it would be possible to increase focus on weeds and highways with that underspend. In response, Councillor Lynn Williams, Leader of the Council, advised that work was ongoing to extend the remit of Enveco. She also highlighted the importance of community engagement and responsibility and the aims to involve residents in plans. She added that the Alleyway project due to launch in March 2020 would be reinvigorated following the easing of restrictions.


In response to a question, Mr Thompson advised that when the budget had been set dividends had been expected from Blackpool Transport Services Limited (BTS) and Blackpool Operating Company Limited. Due to the pandemic and the resultant reduction in services offered by BTS and closure of the Sandcastle it had not been possible for the Companies to pay the dividends in 2020/2021.


The Leadership Board expressed disappointment in the overspend by Children’s Services, noting that it was a reoccurring issue. Mr Thompson highlighted that whilst a large number of Government grants had been received during the previous financial year to offset increased expenditure for Adult Social Care during the pandemic, some had been applied to Children’s Social Care in the same way. He added that in June 2020, a five-year Medium Term Financial Strategy had been approved for Children’s Services and that the Council was starting to see some effect of that Strategy with the overspends reducing.


In relation to the overspend by Print Services, Mr Thompson noted that there had been a history of overspend in that department but the Service had now been relocated to a more prominent location. He noted that due to the pandemic the service had not been able to operate as expected and that grants from Government as a result of Covid only covered 75% of lost income.


Members also highlighted the overspend by the Illuminations and queried whether it was a result of increased maintenance costs due to the lights being left up all year round rather than taken down after each season. Mr Thompson agreed to investigate this issue further and report back following the meeting.


The Chair thanked Mr Thompson and his team on behalf of the Leadership Board for their hard work.

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