Agenda item

Quarter 1 Performance Report - Finance & Resources


NH was invited to talk about the finance and resources performance. There are 5 red KPIs that are the same as last year and these are all a direct response to COVID. There are more enquiries about people struggling to pay council tax and people who aren’t au fait with the benefits system to make the most of it. This is taking time to resolve and there are additional requests for temporary accommodation which is harder to resolve from a council tax and housing claims perspective.

Investment income is also a red KPI. Investment that is with the government, as a ‘DMO’, is receiving 0% interest compared with 0.8% pre-COVID. NH doesn’t envisage interest rates changing in 2021/22 or 2022/23 so this KPI will need re-calibrating.

Time taken for debtors to pay is also down. The Council has been lenient with its debtors and allowed different payment mechanisms, like instalments, to prevent debtors from going bust.

Whilst for commercial property more income is being collected, there are more arrears. Payment plans are what is helping and also allowing the Council to remain close to the sector. The Council is also seeing demand for commercial units in local arcades and shopping centres.

Looking at the risk report, the risk scores haven’t changed since the last quarter. Council tax collection is up year on year but it’s difficult to predict council tax and business rate collection at the end of the year due to the uncertainty around business rates in the first quarter.

Questions and Answers:

Cllr Tindall wanted to thank the Council for ensuring that their creditors were paid within 30 days. He asked what requirements there are for the larger contractors to ensure that once the Council had paid them that they pay their sub-contractors as expeditiously. NH explained there are standard conditions in the contract with contractors to ensure they have good payment terms with their sub-contractors.

Cllr Townsend queried the extent of the ‘significant debt provision’ on CP02 of the report. NH clarified this was about making larger provisions for bad debt. Last year an additional £800,000 was put into bad debt provision for commercial properties, as part of good accounting practice. From 1st April 2021, bad debt over 6 months was 100% ‘bad debt’, then there was a sliding scale of 25% for debt that was older than 1 month but less than 3 months’ old. The Council was applauded by its external auditor on its bad debt provision. NT added that income collected from investment property at FIN11 (page 27) is outperforming compared to what was expected and is ‘green’. NH hopes this gives members confidence that this year the Council is performing well against the poor performance due to COVID. Cllr Townsend asked if there was a figure for the bad debt in the budget. NH said this would be provided the following evening at the audit committee.

Cllr Symington asked what the timescale is between people asking for repairs and repairs being implemented in the housing stock. NH said this wasn’t under his jurisdiction but he would find out.

Cllr Adeleke queried whether in the current climate it was the right time to be selling properties. NH clarified that this is only done when the Council is unable to get good value out of an asset, and it usually means that the property concerned is derelict or needs redevelopment to be repurposed. It’s usually best to offload an asset rather than incurring the costs of keeping it.

The Chair queried where NH got his information on regarding his expectation for interest rates, given he said last year that we would be in a recession. The Chair wants reassurance that the budget and funding is proactively dealt with rather than reactive.

 NH wants the Committee to trust his judgement. He also utilises external advisors and consultants who comment on interest rates as well as looking to treasury advisors and the Hertfordshire chief finance officers’ group. NH feels that most of the time they get things right and felt strongly that there was a proactive approach taken with DBC finances.


NH to find out how long it takes between repairs being requested and implemented in the housing stock.



The report was noted.


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