Issue - meetings

General Fund Revenue Budget Monitoring Report - Month 5

Meeting: 08/11/2023 - Executive (Item 61)

61 General Fund Revenue Budget Monitoring Report - Month 5 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider the report.


Following consideration of the officer report, appendices and discussion, the Executive:??


a. Noted the forecast overspend of £27.3m (5.5%) for the year and the recovery actions being taken to address this.


b. Approved that it will continue to receive a monthly update on the financial position and actions being taken to address it. 


c. Noted that the format of the Budget Monitoring will be changed from month 6.


d. Approved a £0.3m budget virement from the Corporate Contingency budget to Strategic Asset Management to carry out the RAAC (Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) surveys.


ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED: As set out in the officer report


REASON FOR DECISION: As set out in the officer report


The Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Governance and Communications, Cllr Bill Revans, invited the Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Resources and Performance, Cllr Liz Leyshon, to introduce the report.


The Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Resources and Performance, Cllr Liz Leyshon, introduced the report, highlighting: that the report detailed the month 5 budget position; that the projected overspend is £27.3m, the majority of which relates to Adults and Children’s Services; the national financial situation across the sector; that the Council is faced with serious challenges and a serious financial deficit that requires urgent and decisive action; the open and transparent strategy and communication required to address the viability of Somerset Council; the continued use of reserves and the impact of the financial sustainability of the Council; the local and national impact on Local Government Reorganisation, including: the global Covid pandemic, the vaccination programme, the end of multiple Government grants and funding, Brexit and its impact on European workers, the Fair Cost of Care, the Ukraine War, rising energy and food costs, high inflation, increased interest rates and the reduction in value of commercial assets; the income from and disposal of the amalgamated portfolio of commercial assets; the scale and focus of actions and that the Council is committed to ensuring its financial sustainability, delivery of key services, as well as the wellbeing and safety of staff and customers; the full engagement and work across the Council to challenge the financial assumptions which are being forecast, understanding those assumptions and working together to mitigate overspends where possible; and the budget monitoring consideration across the Scrutiny Committees and Audit Committee.


The Director of Resources and Corporate Services, Jason Vaughan, added to the above points, highlighting: the complex challenges aligning the five predecessors Councils and setting a budget for a Unitary Council; the impact of the agreed national pay award; the revised Scrutiny Committee – Corporate and Resources dates; the change in budget monitoring reporting from month 6; the spending controls previously put in place and the financial focus group established to provide focus with a clear programme of activity to address the budget overspend in the current year and the forecast budget gap for next year; the three control boards set up to monitor and oversee the following areas: establishment and recruitment, commercial and procurement, any other spending over £100; that the cost pressures will continue into the 2024/25 financial year; and that the Council cannot rely on reserves to cover the budget gap as the Council would not be financially sustainable.


The Lead Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr Dean Ruddle, further added to the above points commenting on the improvement in home and domiciliary care, the impact of high interest rates, the historic Adult Social Care financial challenges and pressures, and the work to balance the overspend.


The Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Governance and Communications, Cllr Bill Revans, invited comments from other Members present, questions and points raised included:  thanks to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61