F Jump introduced the report for the forecast outturn position as at Q2. An overall pressure of £1m is forecast, of which £0.7m is Covid-related and the proposal is to fund this pressure from the economic recovery reserve.
The housing revenue account is seeing revenue pressures of £0.8m, which is made of up a number of over and underspends, as detailed in the report. Capital schemes are broadly on budget, against the general fund there is slippage of £0.1m, and against the housing revenue account there is slippage of £11.7m, of which most is against the new build programme and relates to delays experienced with third parties.
Cllr Harden referred to item 4.1 in the report and 3.4 around temporary accommodation and asked for further context on funding. F Jump explained that they are seeing a shortfall against the income targets due to working practices that needed to be introduced, and they are not currently at full capacity and this is impacting budgets. Works are continuing on these properties to make them fit for purpose and these properties therefore can’t be used.
Cllr Harden asked if the council are working to encourage the recruitment to fill capacity or if this will be resolved at a later date. F Jump stated that she didn’t believe there was an issue with works being undertaken, and that they need to consider how many clients can be housed at a particular time due to restrictions.
Remaining on item 4.1, Cllr Adeleke asked how severe the situation is with staff sickness. F Williamson advised that they have had 4 members of staff off and that throughout the pandemic they have experienced issues with individuals with periods of sickness but also with people being asked to self-isolate. There are currently 2 members absent at present.
The Chairman noted items 5.1, 5.10 and 5.11 and that the bad debt provision is better than expected. The Chairman referred to item 5.12 and the depreciation and revaluations. F Jump advised that professional evaluations were undertaken as a result of publication of the final accounts, and this has indicated an increase in value of council housing stock, which will impact the depreciation of assets charged through the housing revenue account and has therefore increased as a result. The Chairman asked if this was with a particular set of properties. F Jump explained that, given the number of properties, even a small increase in valuation will have a large impact on the depreciation charge.
Cllr Harden noted item 6.4 and commented on the delay in developing housing schemes due to awaiting planning consent or responses from Hertfordshire County Council and asked if the council were working proactively to address this. F Jump advised that they are actively pursuing all avenues and reassured members that they are doing all possible to expedite these programmes.
Cllr Adeleke raised a point of order that there should have been a declaration at the beginning of the meeting that it was being recorded. The Chairman commented that the protocol has been that meetings have been recorded for a number of months and confirmed that the meeting was being recorded.