This report outlines forecast financial position of the organisation at the end of 2020/21 based on the information known at the end of the first quarter.
Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader – Finance and Property) summarised key elements of the published report explaining that the County Council was in a good position to face future challenges. Members’ attention was drawn to page 50 of the agenda pack where Covid-19 pressures had been specifically identified. Particular areas of concern were the high needs block where deficits roll forwards from one year to the next, the increase in costs of children’s placements owing to Covid-19 and a shortfall of funds for the new business support model.
Regarding Capital, Cabinet was informed that there had been a degree of slippage with some projects. In addition, it had been found necessary to reprofile some existing projects whilst some new projects had seen an increase in costs.
Councillor Keith Kondakor suggested that slippage with projects could be attributed in part to a lack of resources in Design Services. He noted that the Kenilworth to Leamington cycleway had not apparently been started and questioned the business case for the need for the Bermuda Bridge project to proceed. Finally, Councillor Kondakor reminded the meeting that as part of the Nuckle project the County Council had provided £1m to Coventry City Council to provide a new platform at Coventry station. That platform had yet to be constructed. In response to Councillor Kondakor, Councillor Jeff Clarke (Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning) stated that a meeting was scheduled to be held with Coventry City Council to discuss the new platform. The Bermuda Bridge project was out to tender. The Kenilworth to Leamington cycleway project had been delayed by Covid-19 and whilst capacity amongst staff had been an issue the Council was keen to build the cycleway as soon as possible.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse recognised that the Covid-19 pandemic would have a serious impact on resources. Having highlighted town centre spend he referenced page 65 and asked what were the two most significant risks to forecasts.
In response to a question from Councillor Dave Parsons (Deputy Leader of the Labour Group) regarding the Comprehensive Spending Review Councillor Izzi Seccombe (Leader of Council and Chair of Cabinet) informed the meeting that any announcement on this was some way off, the LGA having yet to make its submission.
Returning to the Kenilworth to Leamington Cycleway Councillor Butlin reminded the meeting that the project presents a number of serious challenges in technical and land acquisition terms. In terms of the risks to forecasts, Councillor Butlin observed that tax take will be reduced for a time. It had been noted that there will be no increase in tax take this year. Redundancies are expected and this will further lead to a reduction in tax take, but the economy was expected to rally. He had hoped that the Comprehensive Spending Review would provide a three-year settlement. This would help with planning. However, it was more likely that a one-year settlement would be provided.
a) Notes the forecast overspend of £3.364m for the 2020/21 financial year on the Council’s ... view the full minutes text for item 3