The Chair noted that the risk register had not been discussed previously and suggested that this first be returned to for any questions. No questions were raised by members.
N Howcutt presented the report, noting the error on the front page of the executive summary and confirmed that the pressure on the underlying surplus should be £0.065m. The General Fund has a pressure of £65k, which is in line with the Q3 report. Large pressures have been experienced due to the rise in inflation, though this has also meant increased interest rates and there has therefore been a significant improvement on the treasury investment of over £1m. On HRA, there is a bottom line pressure of £2.9m, which will require an additional £1.5m draw down from reserves as agreed in Q3 where it was agreed that £800k would be drawn down. There has been a significant increase in the cost of maintenance and repairs due to cost inflation and also the Covid backlog as well as additional requirements from government, such as addressing damp and mould issues. Large growth has been factored into the HRA budget for 2023-24, though it will be a challenging budget as cost pressures increase. On capital, there has been significant slippage, and the planning moratorium has impacted this, meaning that planning proposals could not be approved for 6 months. Some approvals will come to Cabinet next month so will start to progress. On the General Fund, there have been fleet delays and a housing project. Regarding The Nickey Line, it was confirmed that this is delivered by HCC and will now be delivered in 2023-24.
Cllr Hannell referred to page 73 of the report and suggested that the current budget of £21.56m against the forecasted outturn of £22.9m means there is 6.6% more money. N Howcutt advised that the core funding is a combination of revenue support grant, business rates, council tax income and other grants, noting that additional funding was received, though some grants come in and go straight out. For The Nickey Line, N Howcutt advised that £600k came into DBC and was then paid to HCC. On how this is broken down, N Howcutt stated that the baseline funding for business rates was in line with expectations, and council tax was slightly low in terms of collection rate, though in line with expectations.
Cllr Hannell suggested that the Council did well to receive an additional 6.6% from the government. N Howcutt advised that the vast majority of this went straight out again and has no impact on the Council.
The Chair advised that most grants are proactively applied for by members of the team and were unlikely to be known about when budgets were set. N Howcutt agreed, noting that a report will go to Cabinet regarding UKSPF, a new grant received in year. Quarterly reports will provide more detailed reporting.
Cllr Elliot referred to the item on resident service on page 74 of the report, noting the roll out of the new waste service optimisation project in July and asked if this has started. A Wilkie noted that the planning work is going well and a meeting will take place tomorrow on whether to proceed, and whilst it is likely to go ahead, the work may not commence until beginning of August. N Howcutt added that there has been housing growth over recent years, though waste collection routes have not been optimised and a large project is underway to look at how to optimise costs and efficiency. N Howcutt stated that whilst there will be a staffing impact, there will be no redundancies and they will reduce the reliance on agency staff, as well as reducing the number of vehicles used and fuel required.
The Chair commented on the slippage on the 3 major capital programmes and asked if the pressure of increasing costs have been factored into this. N Howcutt noted that Cabinet approve the budget and if the budget needs to be increased then they will return to Cabinet. There are projects over the next 2-3 years that are likely to be more expensive than the approved budget due to delays and contingency is built in to allow for this. The Chair clarified that increases would not be recognised until there is a capital request and that they couldn't look at a project to see if they could check if the budget is still adequate. N Howcutt advised that the majority of budgets are as expected and that housing is where they will likely see additional pressure.
The Chair commented on the HRA and £5m of repairs, asking if any of this investment is expected to lower maintenance costs going forward. N Howcutt explained that they have increased the repairs and maintenance budget in the HRA for 2023-24 by 25% as it was understood that prices have increased, so the HRA will be closely monitored going forward.
The Chair asked if the financial outturn spreadsheet could be included as a separate report so they can be checked alongside other reports. N Howcutt confirmed that this could be included separately.
ACTION: Financial outturn spreadsheet to be provided to members as a separate document.