To consider report of the Cabinet setting out the end of year position for the financial period 2019/20 seeking approval of the County Council’s treasury management activities and prudential indicators.
The Council considered the report of Cabinet (Item 9 in the Minute Book) setting out the year end position for the financial period 2019/20 and seeking approval of the County Council’s treasury management activities and prudential indicators (Appendix 2 of the Annex). The Leader presented the report and drew Members attention to the year end position of coming in slightly under budget which indicated that up until the Covid-19 crisis, the County Council was on budget and on time for savings targets. The Leader handed over to Councillor Stephen Reid, Executive Member for Commercial Strategy, Human Resources and Performance who confirmed that his comments would be directed at this report and Item 10 on the Agenda – Medium Term Financial Strategy Update as together the reports provided a good illustration of what has been happening.
The Executive Member reported that due to the
economic shutdown caused by the pandemic, it might be necessary for
the County Council to draw on all of its reserves to be able to
continue to provide services during this time of
crisis. Some reserves had already been
drawn on ahead of receiving Government funding to enable the County
Council’s partners to continue providing
services. At this point, the
unfunded costs and losses stand at £100m and rising, which is
the position after receiving a share of two tranches of central
Government funding for the crisis. The
importance of recognition that some of the County Council’s
need arises from loss of operational income as a direct result of
the crisis was highlighted and that the crisis has stopped the
County Council pursuing savings which has set back the two-year
programme of productivity improvements.
The Executive Member confirmed that scenarios have been
investigated and set out in the report at paragraph 22 (Cabinet
Annex), which painted a difficult picture. Government made some very difficult lockdown
decisions to protect the country’s residents and the NHS, and
the County Council had stepped up and helped deliver on those
decisions but in doing so had weakened its financial
position. The County Council would
likely use up all of its buffer funds and the medium term financial
projections, as set out in the report (Item 10), are at the moment
uncertain. The Executive Member
concluded that announcements were awaited as to how local
government will be funded back to a position of
In response to a request for clarification, the Chief Executive confirmed that figures in the table at paragraph 1.3 of the Part I report and paragraphs 2.3 and 3.1 of the Annex should be displayed in millions, rather than in thousands.
The main focus of the Council’s ensuing debate was the appropriate level of funding from central government.
In summing up, the Leader commented that the small surplus arising from the year end position had been very helpful in coping with some of the pressures of the pandemic.
That the report on the County Council’s treasury management activities and prudential indicators, as set out in Appendix 2 of the Cabinet report annexed to this Part I Council Report, be approved.