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Agenda item


To consider the report of the Director of Resources on the Provisional Revenue Outturn for 2021/22 compared with the approved budget and the capital expenditure in the year ended 31 March 2022 with sources of funding.


Mr Steve Maher, Finance Manager, Strategic and Technical Finance and Mr David Fish, Finance Manager, Capital and Regeneration Finance presented the provisional outturn for 2021/2022 to the Board and highlighted that it had been one of the most challenging years for the Council financially. It was reported that the overall position for the year had been a small overspend but that considering the challenges this was an achievement and the overspend represented a very small percentage of the Council’s overall budget.


It was reported that the overspend of Children’s Services was considerable at £4.4 million despite an additional £8.2 million included in the budget for the service. This was largely due to the cost of placements which continued to escalate. It was noted that a refresh of the Medium Term Financial Strategy for Children’s Services would be undertaken to try to identify a way forward. The Board raised concern that the overspend in Children’s Services was an ongoing issue that had not yet been successfully addressed and it was noted that this was something that was regularly considered by the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Lynn Williams, Leader of the Council noted that the management team within Children’s Services was now complete and positive feedback continued to be received from Ofsted. She noted that large families was a particular issue unique to Blackpool and that the budget was kept in sharp focus through regular monitoring meetings. She advised that improvements were on the horizon but that some aspects were out of the Council’s control.


The Board noted that there had also been an overspend in Children’s legal services and queried what this related to. It was noted that more cases had been required to go to court than expected and that it was a consequence of the high levels of work by Children’s Social Care and was all related to the same key challenges within the service.


Mr Maher highlighted a number of other key areas of overspend and underspend including a £300k overspend within the Governance and Partnerships Directorate which had been offset by a staffing underspend in resources.


It was reported that the Council had maintained working balances of £6.1 million and that no overspends or underspends were being rolled forward in 2022/2023 other than the underspend in ward funding. In response to a question, it was reported that the new financial year was expected to be challenging enough without services also needing to account for previous areas of overspend with significant financial challenges expected to included inflation, increasing utilities costs, staff pay award alongside the continuing challenges to Children’s Services and growing demand and pressures in Adult Social Care.


With regards to the capital outturn position, Mr Fish advised that large investment had continued into a number of regeneration schemes with many funded by prudential borrowing alongside significant levels of grant funding.


In response to a question, Mr Maher noted that there was a working group that met regularly to refresh and revisit the Medium Term Financial Strategy. It was noted that there were significant and ongoing financial concerns which made predicting the future financial position particularly difficult. In relation to loans, Mr Fish advised that although the interest rate was expected to rise, it was expected that there would be time to consider rates when granting new loans. In addition, Mr Maher reported that the Treasury Management Panel reviewed the Council’s portfolio regularly and that all loans were considered individually to determine the best option with regards to term and rate.


In relation to the Town Centre Deal, it was noted that some funds had already been allocated and spent. A specific query was raised in relation to the spend related to Topping Street which had been recorded as zero and Mr Fish agreed to investigate this issue and report back in writing following the meeting.


To conclude, Members discussed the spending of ward funding in detail and noted the length of time of the process and what could be done to encourage Councillors to spend their allocation. It was considered that it would be useful to know how much of the £71k underspend had already been committed to projects and just not drawn down.


The Board agreed:

1.     That Mr Fish report back on the spend on Topping Street in writing following the meeting.

2.     To find out whether any of the £71k underspend in ward funding had been already committed to projects.

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