Report number: PAS/WS/21/023
The Committee received Report number PAS/WS/21/023, which set out the Quarter 2 performance and forecast year-end financial position for West Suffolk for 2021 to 2022.
The Service Manager (Resources and Performance) presented the budget monitoring and referred to page 295 of the report, setting out the key headlines for the current revenue outturn position, which showed a balanced forecast year end position. This position took into account the £2m provision for the effects of Covid-19 in the 2021 to 2022 approved budget, based on £1.1m anticipated pressures and utilisation of the £0.9m local authority Covid-19 support grant.
Whilst the overall level of the council’s General Fund and reserve would be reassessed in light of the pandemic, at the time of writing this report, around £421,000 of the £1,506,000 budgeted contribution of the General Fund was proposed to be utilised in order to fund the remaining forecast deficit. The council’s financial position and ability to reduce the impact where possible had been helped by previous financial planning and the creation of the West Suffolk Council as well as quick and effective action to reduce costs as guidance and infection rates changed.
The Service Manager (Resources and Performance) then referred to page 296 of the report, which set out a graphical representation on how Covid-19 had impacted the council over the year. The first graph showed the financial impact of Covid-19 and the second graph showed how the impact had been mitigated.
Pages 297 of the report, which set out the council’s forecasting spend of £28.6m from its capital budget of £49.5m for 2021 to 2022 with a proposed carry forward of £20.6m as a result of project timings. The council’s forecast balance on earmarked revenue reserves at the end of the financial year was £34.2m after Section 31 grant adjustments, against a budgeted closing balance of £32.2m.
Attached to the Quarter 2 performance report were a number of appendices, presented by the Service Manager (Policy, Projects and Performance) which set out the performance and financial position for 2021-2022, as follows:
- Appendix A: Performance Indicators – Commentary
- Appendix B: Performance Indicators – Growth
- Appendix C: Performance Indicators – Families and Communities
- Appendix D: Performance Indicators – Housing
- Appendix E: Performance Indicators – Day to Day
- Appendix F: Income and Expenditure Report
- Appendix G: Capital Programme
- Appendix H: Earmarked Reserves
- Appendix I: Strategic Risk Register
The Service Manager (Policy, Projects and Performance) then drew members attention to two areas, being homelessness and channel shift.
The number of households in temporary accommodation reported this quarter was 73, compared to 69 in the previous quarter and 87 in quarter 2 (2020-2021). In July 2020 the highest figure reported was 132 households in temporary accommodation, with the average being 59 in the year before Covid.
The number of households in bed and breakfast accommodation this quarter was 9, compared to 10 in the previous quarter, and 19 in quarter 2 (2020-2021). In April 2020 the highest figure report was 74 households in bed and breakfast, with the average being 12 in the year before Covid.
The biggest development was the moratorium on evictions of tenants which ended on 3 October 2021, and the council was expecting to see the homelessness prevention caseloads increasing. Furthermore, there might be an increase in the numbers in temporary accommodation and bed and breakfast accommodation as the moratorium kicks in and furlough ends.
The percentage of contacts made online or by email (channel shift) was 55.96% this quarter, compared to 42% last year. In this quarter West Suffolk House reopened on 2 August 2021, offering a visitor management service for visitors and a signposting service for customers. The August footfall was 128 and in September 132.
Members considered the report in detail and asked questions to which responses were provided. In particular discussions were held on total debt over 90 days, specifically in relation to large debtors, and income from commercial waste.
In response to a question raised asking whether more detail could be provided on debt management, in particular the figures and the risk involved. Officers agreed to look into this request further, in relation to how best to present the information in a public forum.
In response to a question raised asking how long the government Covid grants for homelessness would continue to be provided, officers advised that there was no commitment by the government to carry them on. Officers further explained that the rough sleeping funding was for one year, but could be extended for three years, and the council was currently waiting for this to be confirmed by the government. In the meantime, officers continued to work with residents and landlords to enable them to stay in their homes.
There being no decision required, the Committee noted the 2021 to 2022 Performance Report (Quarter 2).