Agenda item

2023/24 Budget Monitoring Report - Month 5

To receive an update report for Budget 2023/24 Month 5 – to the end of August 2023.


Cllr Leyshon introduced the report, and the Director of Finance and Procurement presented his report to the committee.


The committee were informed that the month 6 report would provide more accurate financial information going forward, considerable work had been undertaken to establish staff and structures. The national pay award for staff has been agreed and would be paid and backdated to 1st April. This was equivalent to a 6.1% increase including employer on costs, these additional costs had been forecasted and allowed for in the corporate contingency. Monthly reporting would occur to both Scrutiny and Exec on a monthly basis. Full spending controls were in place across the entire council to ensure full control of expenditure.


It was likely that significant variances would continue to be expected through the current financial year into next year. There remained £49.8 million in general reserves to mitigate against the current overspend, however the committee were reminded that the use of reserves this year would impact the availability to support next year’s budget through the use of reserves. There was no clear certainty that the current overspend would be reduced to zero by the current financial year end.



During the debate the following comments and questions were raised:-


·       Concerns were expressed that savings in the LGR business case had not been delivered. There had been savings achieved through LGR but the increase in costs across the organisation was driving the budget gap.

·       There was the perception of the increase Adults social care services cost wiping out LGR savings.

·       1 in 10 councils in the same situation, several councils were at risk of a section 114 notice due to the increase in these costs.

·       The historically low council tax in Somerset had also played a part in the budget gap comparted to other local authorities in the southwest with the average council tax band in Somerset being a band C.

·       In respect of the £18.4 million savings projected in the LGR business case. Progress to date was £3.8 million in achieving these savings.

·       There had been an impact on Somerset Council and exposing data on funding and associated costs of Social Care, the impact on this had been significant and an estimate of this was between 4-5 times the amount of LGR savings.

·       It was reported that the financial position across most services was improving in the last month with exceptions and Adults and Childrens services.

·       It was being considered what statutory services could be done at a certain level. Staffing establishment controls were in place to focus on delivering on reducing costs.

·       93% of spend in adults services was on care placements costs.

·       The increase in adults services was not demand increase but the cost per placement for those being supported already.

·       It was considered if the rise in cost of SEND transport was due to fuel costs. This was largely due to the competition of demand of drivers to tender for services. A transport Board had been put in place and work was ongoing with officers in respect of the cost of SEND transport arrangements.

·       2100 young people in 2019 had a transport responsibility with an Education Health Plan which has increased to 5300 young people with a transport responsibility applied to their educational healthcare plan. This combined with an increase in contractor cost had driven the cost of support to the Council.

The committee noted the contents; they also noted the recommendations made to the Executive along with the controls and monitoring of the budgets.

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