To consider the report of the Chief Finance Officer.
The Principal Accountant (PM) presented the report which advised Members of any major differences, by management unit between the approved revenue budget and the estimated outturn as part of a quarterly financial update in respect of Place Scrutiny Committee. The current forecast suggested that net expenditure for the Committee would decrease from the approved budget by a total of £101,620 after transfers from reserves and revenue contributions to capital. This represented a variation of 2.12% from the revised budget and included a supplementary budget of £621,297, already agreed by Council. The Principal Accountant (MH) stated that the report also included a predicted outturn update in respect of the Place Capital Programme, and she confirmed a total current spend of £1,871,990 in 2017/18 with £931,970 of the programme potentially deferred until 2018/19.
The Chair introduced Councillor Owen, on the Financial Working Group, convened to provide a focus of the financial reports presented to the three Scrutiny Committees. One of the aims of the working group was to ensure that Members made the most of the opportunity to challenge and comment on the financial reporting. The Member was grateful to the Finance team who did an excellent job providing both information and support at the Scrutiny Committee meetings and elsewhere, and he hoped that future reporting would include more explanatory narrative to allow Members to offer a clearer challenge. He also sought further clarification on the significant variations by management unit for Place Scrutiny Committee, for the March report as follows:-
· 81A4 – Public Safety - The Director confirmed that the Home Call Alarm Service had made a net profit for the authority. The operating profit had increased substantially and in 2015/16 there was a healthy 19% profit, which increased to 21% profit in 2016/17. There had been a steady growth which had exceeded income expectations, however demand was expected to plateau.
· 818A6 - Parks and Green Spaces - The Director referred to the overspend and explained that the Public Realm service were working smarter and more efficiently with greater mechanisation. He also explained that the Parks and Green Spaces and street cleaning had separate budgets, but were managed as a whole with an overspend of £60,000, out of £3.8 million budget.
· 81D4 – Street Cleaning - The Director stated that an underspend was due to less vehicle repairs but they were in the process of acquiring more modern vehicles.
· 83B5 – Planning Services - The Principal Accountant (PM) stated that the underspend on the pay budget was attributed to a budget which had not been removed.
· 83B8 - Major Projects - The Principal Accountant (PM) stated that the compensation payment was in respect of the Bus Station and was due to the tenant under the Landlords and Tenants Act 1954. The City Surveyor had to end the tenancy earlier than anticipated in order to secure the site for redevelopment. He also explained that no further compensation would be due when the Bus Station is closed.
Place Scrutiny Committee noted the report.