Decision Maker: Audit Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Committee considered this report that provided details of the value for money tracker, first considered by the Committee at its meeting last September, following recommendations from the Council’s External Auditors on how to improve both budget monitoring and setting.
It was reported that following the 7 recommendations made by the External Auditor written responses from the Council had been provided regarding each, and several commitments had been made to improve the processes. Those responses had subsequently been loaded in JCAD, the Council’s recognised tracking and reporting mechanism for risk management, so that a format like the regular risk management reports was used.
Members heard that quarterly budget monitoring reports would be presented to Cabinet and Scrutiny meetings, to improve visibility and understanding for all Members and it was stated that the underlying position was improving but not as secure as Officers would wish. The changes to the Council’s budget setting process were noted which included ensuring all previously identified savings were deliverable and figures now included inflation, pay increases and increments.
Members wanted to know if the problems of last year could be avoided and what measures were being taken to ensure the Council’s finances were more sustainable. It was stated that since last summer finance had been taken seriously by the organisation and was more visible with monthly monitoring meetings now being held with a clear focus and the Council’s Senior Leadership Team holding weekly meetings. This had been reflected in improved record keeping on JCAD.
There was a discussion of the report and it was noted that since the last meeting in January, progress continued to be made in a number of areas as set out in the tracker. Members are asked to note in particular:
· Robust control of the 2018/19 in-year budget resulted in the projected overspend reported to Cabinet in month 4 being reduced to a projected underspend in month 8. This projected underspend had continued at broadly the same level in months 9 and 10. The more detailed, frequent and transparent budget monitoring would continue to both Cabinet and Scrutiny each month. The Quarter 3 budget monitoring report included the addition of charts showing the trend in budget variations, in total and by services that provided a simple, visual summary of the movements across the year to date. This had been well received by Members.
· After a detailed MTFP process, and thorough scrutiny at each Committee in January, the 3-year MTFP was presented to and agreed by Cabinet and then Council in February 2019. The report included considerable details of the budget being proposed, highlighting where there were changes from the previous MTFP and drawing out implications for the longer-term financial resilience.
· Since mid 2018 there had been monthly progress up-dates to track and review progress against the value for money tracker. The outgoing Interim Director of Finance had a final detailed conversation in February 2019 (alongside a handover with the incoming Interim Finance Director) and the incoming Interim Finance Director had also met with external audit in March. Regular meetings would continue to be held as the organisation made further progress.
The Committee agreed to accept the report.
Publication date: 30/05/2019
Date of decision: 28/03/2019
Decided at meeting: 28/03/2019 - Audit Committee