The purpose of the report set out the provisional outturn position for the financial year 2022/23, prior to the formal closure of accounts. Further details of this executive summary can be found on-line
Members were asked to note that recommendation 1.4 should read “note” not endorse.
The following points were highlighted:
· In terms of investment sales, clear timeline taken to be shared with the investment panel, two stages one to be completed this Friday to assess which bids were coming forward with the second phase starting in August through to November with the aim to sell the solar investments by November.
· In terms of wider investments, all significant investments were being prioritised by size with the aim to bring in the sale of those assets inside this financial year.
· Some investments had a defined process and timescales. Advisors going out to market on other renewable assets to identify the options available. Expecting positive returns from the broader investment portfolio (excluding the three investments with specific concerns) which was still considered robust and should attract market value. Due to the sensitivity of some of these investments, updates would be provided to members. (see action point 1)
· Members were provided with an update on PWLB debt, wherever that debt had come to maturity it was being replaced with a one-year loan. In parallel with that the treasury strategy had been reset. There was no commitment for long term PWLB debt, and it was expected to sell assets to fund that borrowing. The gap on investments would be further reduced by property sales, any positive outcomes from legal action and divestments of investments.
· Decisions would then need to be made on how to hold the remaining debt with an assessment already in progress
· Member commented that it would be helpful if excel table headers continued onto all pages.
· Members recognised the confidentiality around the outcomes of legal action being undertaken but hopefully would see some of that help the financial position given what the council had gone through.
· Noted from previous scrutiny committee report on Violence Against Women there was nearly half a million underspend and queried if this was available to be carried forward. (see action point 3)
· Questioned what action was being taken to get government money, £0.25m was promised for the Just Stop Oil demonstrations. (see action point 4)
· Noted the overspend in Planning due to the reduced number of applications and in the context of the cost of additional consultants to support the development management team.
· Good to see the good performance against waste disposable contracts but noted the levels of recycling were not where they should be. (see action point 5)
· Noted the costs of the intervention and commissioner costs and how unbalanced this would look through the eyes of a resident.
· Questioned the process of department budgets and how these were monitored.
· In regard to the investment portfolio, questioned whether there was a goal expectation by the end of the financial year to which members were referred to the timescales within the report. Was very optimistic that the majority of the value in that portfolio would be resolved by the sale of the higher value priority assets.
· Member referred to the provisional outturn budget and questioned when the financial position of the last two years would be known. Further work on the financial accounting was underway with a technical expert working with auditors and the finance team to resolve the technical issues.
· Members needed a better handle on the understanding of the finances within reports.
· There was concern that due to the huge amount of work being undertaken on budgets and information within the reports that something could easily get missed.
· Member requested a “visual” report to identify what exactly was taking place to be brought to committee so that members can track what was being sold and when. (see action point 7)
· Noted that the Grays Underpass and Stanford Le Hope interchange had been temporarily removed from the programme pending decisions.
· Member suggested for in the future, a section in reports that stated even if those two big projects were still on the programme, what position the council would be in. This could change the outlook and provide openness and transparency.
· Members requested an update on the reserves strategy to be provided to the committee. (see action point 8)
· Question on the analysis of the risk register as no comments had been made in the report with regard to changes of such risks.
· Commented that Government needed to find a different funding approach for local councils that made more sense, as there was a need to deliver services that residents deserved. (see action point 9)
· Member noted and raised concern on the slippage had occurred on the HRA Fire Safety project. (see action point 10)
· Rights to Buy Receipts were discussed for properties that had already been built and occupied. (see action point 11)
· Referred to the Government Town Funds Boards for Grays and Tilbury and were advised the projects continue with funding still available. Care was being taken so that the council would not be liable for any overspends.
1. Jonathan Wilson to provide future updates on the sale of assets.
2. Officers noted that report headers should be used.
3. Jonathan Wilson to take
the Violence Against Women funding point
and respond to councillors outside the meeting.
4. Jonathan Wilson to update members on the government funding for the Just Stop Oil demonstrations.
5. Jonathan Wilson would pass comments made back on planning, consultations, and waste onto colleagues.
6. Jonathan Wilson to look at change of report format for future budget reporting reports.
7. Jonathan Wilson to inform democratic services on a date to which this report can be presented.
8. A report on reserves strategy would be presented to this committee.
9. Jonathan Wilson to liaise with colleagues on Exit and Hold Costs.
10. Jonathan Wilson to report back to members on the slippage on the HRA
Fire Safety project.
11. Jonathan Wilson to follow up on the right to buy
receipts and the
applications of this projects and the years.
Approval was sought for the following in relation to the provisional 2022/23 outturn position:
1. That the Committee commented on the 2022/23 forecast funding gap of £434.595m and note this is balanced by the exceptional financial support from central government.
2. That the Committee noted that the position continues to be subject to change particularly due to the ongoing assessment of the investment portfolio and pending completion of the audit of the financial accounts from 2020/21 onwards, therefore remains provisional.
the Committee noted that the 2023/24 budget remains under review to
consider the impact of the 2022/23 outturn position and note the
potential for further budget virements. This will form part of the
budget monitoring in 2023/24.
4. That the Committee noted the use of reserves as set out in Appendix 3, subject to the finalisation of the audit process relating to financial years 2020/21 and 2021/22 and note balances are subject to change.
6. This recommendation was discussed in the exempt session.
the Committee noted that further consultation with external audit
will be required to finalise the technical accounting treatments
relating to the investment valuations and the associated Minimum
Revenue Provision transactions.
8. That the Committee note the position set out in respect of the capital programme and the reported reprofiling as set out in section 4 of the report.
9. That the Committee note the positions on the Dedicated Schools Grant and the Public Health Grant as set out in section 6.