The Section 151 Officer gave a presentation on current progress with the Revised Budgets for 2022/23 and copies of the presentation were circulated for information. It was noted that the General Fund revised budget position as at 31st March 2023, was £82,000. The salary budgets had been reviewed and savings that would not be used due to maternity leave and vacant posts had been identified. However, as a result of the recently agreed pay award for 2022/23, these savings had been added into the salary budgets. It was also noted that there had been an increase in interest receivable on investments due to the bank base rate increasing from 0.5% to 3% since the original budget was set in December 2021.
The Section 151 Officer highlighted that gas, electric and diesel budgets had been increased to take account of the inflated prices currently being charged.
The Section 151 Officer referred to the Housing Revenue Account and advised that as with the General Fund, the salary budgets had been reviewed and the savings identified added into these budgets to take account of the increase due to the pay award agreed for 2022/23. Budgets had also been adjusted as a result of the increased costs for gas, electric and stores costs. However, the budget for sub-contractors had been reduced as the painting contract was not required in 2022/23.
It was noted that the level of void properties remained higher than anticipated which had an effect on rental income and that there had been an increase in income on the Housing Related Support Schemes due to the Careline service contract being extended until March 2023.
The Section 151 Officer referred to the Capital Programme and advised that Appendix 4 provided a summary of the budget for information.
An update was also provided in relation to Reserves and Balances.
The Section 151 Officer reported that the Medium Term Financial Plan would be submitted to the Audit & Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee in February 2023 for consideration and that this document would include estimates of the potential extra income from business rates, council tax and income generating schemes.
The Chair raised his concern at the number of void properties and the effect this had on the Housing Revenue Account, particularly in relation to the impact on general repairs to properties across the District. He queried whether anything could be done to assist the Housing Revenue Account in managing its finance in a more positive way. The Section 151 Officer advised that the Council had a legal duty to charge the Housing Revenue Account and General Fund for costs associated with Payroll, Legal, Finance etc. therefore the support service recharge that takes place between the two funds would have to stand and could not be reduced or postponed.
The Chair referred to Appendix 1, and queried whether the increase in Investment Interest was due to the significant increase in bank interest rates. The Section 151 Officer confirmed that this was the case.
The Chair queried the Business Rates deficit. The Section 151 Officer advised that the amount of business rates funding received from the Government was not known when the budget was set in January 2022 and that it had to be accounted for during 2022/23.
The Chair referred to the significant increase in the cost of the Pest Control Service. The Section 151 Officer advised that the increase in cost was as a result of the pay award for 2022/23 and inflated fuel charges.
The Chair queried the revised budget for the Household Support Fund (G047). The Section 151 Officer advised that Derbyshire County Council allocated this funding from Government during 2022/23 and that the figure was not known beforehand when the budget was set.
The Chair referred to the increased costs for Housing Strategy (G143) and Enabling Housing (G144). The Section 151 Officer stated that these two budget codes were utilised for the joint work undertaken with North East Derbyshire District Council in relation to empty properties. However, it was intended to split this service in the near future and a Bolsover only service was now reflected in this cost centre.
The Chair referred to the increased costs for The Arc (G156). The Section 151 Officer advised that the increase was due to inflated charges for heating, lighting etc.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance commented that although the Council’s finances were looking positive for the next couple of years, it would be necessary to monitor costs in order to ensure that a balanced budget was maintained.
Moved by Councillor Chris Kane and seconded by Councillor Graham Parkin
RESOLVED that the report be noted and any comments believed to be appropriate be given verbally at the Executive meeting on 5th December 2022.