Agenda item

Budget Monitoring 2021-22

Report of the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets-TO FOLLOW


The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets presented the report, noting that the recovery budget set in November 2020 had been successfully delivered despite the huge uncertainties and financial pressures caused by the pandemic. Although this was very positive, it had to be acknowledged that the pandemic had cost the council nearly £1.5m in 2020/21, and would have cost significantly more had it not taken the right measures during the year.


He noted that the 2021/22 budget had been approved by Council during the third national lockdown when there was no certainty over when things would return to normal, and that the opening up of the economy had been much slower than anticipated. Since 30th June 2021, no further compensation had been provided by the government to cover losses in income. In 2020/21, the council received a total of £2.7m of compensation, which equated to 71p for every pound of income lost. A final claim had been submitted for the first quarter of the year but no other help seemed to be forthcoming.


The end of compensation funding also coincided with significant changes in behaviour, with a 37% decrease in commuting in Gloucestershire alone impacting the amount of car parking income generated. The full impact of the re-opening of the economy on the council’s longer term financial position was still being understood. The report summarised the forecasted impact on the 2021/22 budget based on the information available up to the end of August. These pressures would continue to be monitored throughout the year, in particular the assumptions underpinning the recovery of income budgets which made up the large part of the forecast overspend.

He added that they were reviewing the council’s current budgets to reflect changes in activity and behaviour, and to reduce dependency on income streams which might never fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. The results of this review and their impact on reducing the in-year overspend would be reported to Cabinet and Council in the December 2021 draft budget proposals. This would also include any proposals or recommendations for the application of reserves against any residual overspend, bearing in mind the need to keep the level of reserves robust and the uncertainty surrounding future budget funding gaps, as outlined in the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy. He concluded that while the financial situation ahead of the council would undoubtedly be challenging, they would continue supporting and investing in the town’s post-Covid recovery and delivering key priorities, including carbon neutrality, Cyber Central, affordable housing and No Child Left Behind.

The Cabinet Member Climate Emergency added that it was easy to be depressed by the situation, but the last part of the speech had been key – the council would continue to deliver services and invest in the town’s future. Despite the difficulties of the last 18 months, CBC had a positive story to tell and was delivering on its ambitious agenda.


The Cabinet Member Cyber and Strategic Transport echoed this. The report acknowledged a serious financial situation that would likely remain that way for some time, but the council was continuing to deliver its priorities. No other council of Cheltenham’s size anywhere in the country was delivering a housebuilding programme of this scale. It was important to look at the future, and the impact of these developments in years to come would be immeasurable.


The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities emphasised the importance of No Child Left Behind and thanked the Cabinet Member Finance and Assets for his commitment to the program. It was essential to look after the most vulnerable people in the town and offer them the best possible future.


The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets thanked colleagues for their comments and praised the finance department for their hard work in delivering ambitious plans and positive outcomes.


The Leader moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:


1.    The contents of the report be noted, including the key projected variances to the 2021/22 budget approved by Council on 22 February 2021 and the actions to ensure delivery of services within budget.

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