This report provides Cabinet with an update on the Council’s financial performance.
Portfolio Holder – Councillor Peter Butlin
Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader – Finance and Property) introduced the published report. An underspend of £4.784m for the year was highlighted. Cabinet was informed that this is largely money that had been provided by government in the form of Covid-19 emergency funds. This, it was suggested, will be significantly reduced during the second lockdown. Four further aspects of the report were highlighted. These were,
Councillor Keith Kondakor expressed his concern that the A47 Hinckley cycle scheme was to be slipped back to 2021/22. He asked Cabinet why it appears possible to afford road schemes but not cycle schemes. Cabinet was reminded of the need for a new access point to Nuneaton station from the Weddington side. In addition, Councillor Keith Kondakor reminded members that Warwickshire County Council had provided £1m to Coventry City Council for the provision of a bay platform at Coventry station. This platform had yet to be delivered. Councillor Kondakor asked whether the money would be returned to the County Council.
In response to Councillor Keith Kondakor, Councillor Jeff Clarke (Portfolio Holder for Transport and Planning) stated that the Weddington access to Nuneaton station continues to be planned. The A47 cycle scheme is scheduled for 2021/22. This will be ahead of the junction improvements that are planned for that location. Regarding the bay platform at Coventry station. This is still planned to be delivered.
Councillor Jerry Roodhouse requested more information on disability care placements with particular reference to current market activity.
The general pattern of underspends and overspends was noted by Councillor Jerry Roodhouse but in he asked for an update on the position regarding business support. In reply, Councillor peter Butlin stated that target savings for business support are being reviewed as part of the work around the Covid-19 Recovery Strategy.
Regarding the reference on page 82 to an overspend in mental health, Councillor Jerry Roodhouse suggested that this could increase during the pandemic with an increase in domestic abuse and alcohol and drug abuse. Councillor Peter Butlin agreed with Councillor Jerry Roodhouse adding that many people are isolated in small properties often with no garden. Business failures and unemployment will also add to the pressures on people.
Concerning the reported overspend on SEND, Councillor Colin Hayfield (Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning) suggested there is no one single answer to the challenges faced by the service. Government has been asked for more resources, but the service must work with what it has at its disposal. Councillor Hayfield stated that a seminar on SEND had been arranged.
Councillor Dave Parsons (Deputy Leader of the Labour Group) observed that the underlying trend for Adult Social Care is an overspend. The Pandemic will result in more pressures and it will be necessary to look at the long-term picture both nationally and locally. Councillor Les Caborn responded that the County Council has been supporting the private care market throughout the Pandemic. The market has changed in recent months with many families reluctant to see their relatives living in care homes. However, in Warwickshire there is no evidence that any care providers are struggling to continue operating. Councillor Peter Butlin empasised that private care homes receive a significant amount of support from the County Council.
Councillor Helen Adkins requested a comparison of the underspends in Adult Social Care between 2019/20 and 2020/21. She welcomed the member seminar on SEND adding that since September 2020 she had received around 10 inquiries regarding educational inclusion. In response to a request from the Chair that such information should be shared, Councillor Adkins stated that in many instances parents and carers are unwilling to have their experiences shared.
a) Notes the forecast underspend of £4.784m for the 2020/21 financial year on the Council’s revenue budget.
b) Notes there is a forecast under-delivery of the 2020/21 savings requirement to the value of £2.694m.
c) Notes the increases to the approved 2020/21 capital programme of £0.363m since the programme was last reported in Quarter 1.
d) Approves the carry forward of the reprofiled spend on the capital programme of £7.847m in 2020/21 into future years.
e) Acknowledges that at the date of writing this report, the National Lockdown commencing on 5 November had not been announced. As such, it is important to note that the inevitability of potentially significant changes to the forecast position. This will be driven by changes to Covid related income and expenditure pressures and also Covid funding changes.