Integrated Performance Report 2020/21 Q2
- Meeting of Finance and Performance Panel (Panel of the Scrutiny Committee), Thursday 3 December 2020 6.00 pm (Item 38.)
The Panel is recommended to consider the Integrated Performance Report Q2, detailing the main issues around finance, performance and risk, and to make any recommendations to Cabinet accordingly.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, and Anna Winship, Management Accountancy Manager, will be available to present the report and respond to questions.
Nigel Kennedy, Head of Financial Services, introduced the Integrated Performance Report Q2 to the Panel.
General Fund deficits had reduced from the previous quarter from £8m to £2.4m owing to unanticipated government support, primarily around lost fees and charges for local authorities. The Council would not receive this money until year end, but were anticipating a payment in the realm of £8.5m. The key variances contributing to the overspend were business improvement, where the Council had needed to invest in additional ICT capacity to facilitate remote working, and community services where leisure centre closures and the loss of income from hiring the Town Hall were the main contributors. Commercial rent income was forecast to fall in the end of the year, as well as street trading income and a significant loss in car parking income. The dividend received from the Council’s company, Oxford Direct Services, had been reduced, with the reduction from the previously expected dividend to be in the region of £1.1m. Expenditure had also increased, mainly in the areas of homelessness provision and food-parcels provided through the localities team to vulnerable residents.
The Housing Revenue Account showed an adverse variance of approximately £1.2m, based mainly on the cost of provision for the support of vulnerable families, the cost of PPE and provision for bad debts.
The Panel’s attention was brought to a newly-implemented replacement for the optimism bias in the Capital programme, detailing whether schemes were on or off target and the overall size of those schemes. The main projects off target were those which had been paused in June as part of the Council’s financial stabilisation process in light of Covid.
In response, the Panel raised an issue of the proportion of car parking spaces in Council car parks being occupied by NHS workers with free usage, and asked what the implications on income would be. The position was being reviewed, but it was agreed that this information would be circulated outside the meeting.
With the high number of activities and costs associated with responding to Covid it was recognised by the Panel that scrutiny of the underlying financial position was more difficult, but that this would be made easier by highlighting which spends were deemed one-off and which were ongoing. Likewise, greater clarity about the assumptions made for income levels in the future would also aid scrutiny, as would disaggregating income received and income (particularly income from government related to loss of fees and charges, which would need auditing) which was due to be received in the future. It was agreed that the latter suggestion could be implemented in future reports. The other requested information would be available within the draft budget proposals.
Previously, spend on PPE had been recognised to include other items as well as PPE and the figures were agreed to be split out between PPE and non-PPE items. These figures were absent from the report; it was agreed that they would be circulated outside the meeting.
Bearing in mind the speed of change within the economic situation, the Panel sought an update on the adverse variance within Regeneration and Economy. It was confirmed that a deep-dive into the figures had taken place, and that unless Christmas was particularly good for trading making the figures better than predicted, officers were confident that the model’s forecast was robust.
The Panel and officers discussed the higher level of uncertainty faced by the Council in budgeting because of Covid-19 and the outcome of Brexit negotiations. The forecasts were made based on the best evidence available, but would invariably become more accurate as greater certainty around these macro-economic issues arose. Agreement of the budget in February would provide an opportunity for more up to date data to be factored into the Council’s budgeting.
The report was NOTED.
- Q2 integrated report v4, item 38. PDF 486 KB View as DOCX (38./1) 186 KB
- App A - GF forecast v2, item 38. PDF 660 KB
- App B - HRA forecast v2, item 38. PDF 440 KB
- App C - Captial Forecast v5, item 38. PDF 590 KB
- Appendix D Income streams September, item 38. PDF 430 KB