Agenda item

Revenue Budget Monitoring - Round 2 2022/23

This report presents the results of the second round of the Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2022/23. The Council’s summary position is presented at Table 1, with sections 4-8 providing the detail for each service area.




The Committee considered a report presenting the results of the second round of the Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2022/23.


The following issues were discussed:


·       Transfer of funds from the high needs block to the general fund – Clarity was sought in relation to the safety valve programme and officers advised that the Council’s inclusion in the programme was awaiting Ministerial agreement but that the monitoring reflected the position of the DfE on what could be charged to the Dedicated Schools Grant.  


·       Planning overspend – Concern was expressed regarding the worsening position and clarification was sought. Officers advised that the main reason was around recruitment and the use of consultants. A briefing note was requested on the breakdown of charges to individual service budgets, for example to cover Counsel fees, when planning appeals were made.


·       Operation London Bridge – Asked if Government funding was available in relation to this, officers confirmed that to date no information had been received from the Cabinet Office.


·       Pentagon Centre – Asked about discussions to address the ongoing pressures, officers advised that, despite being below target levels, income still exceeded expenditure. Once the first-floor refurbishment had been completed and was back in use, the position would improve.


·       Legal Services overspend – Concerns were expressed about the ambitious savings targets that had been set, given the reliance on locum staff. Officers advised that this mainly related to children’s social care work. The structure of Legal Services was under review to address the challenges with recruitment and retention, including succession planning.


·       Medway Norse – Clarification was sought about pressure on the core contract, and officers advised that they would check with the service.


·       With regard to Medway Norse’s vehicles, clarification was sought on why the Council, rather than Norse, was paying to switch their vehicles to hydrogenated vegetable fat. Officers said that they would provide a response outside of the meeting.


·       Green spaces budget – It was requested that consideration be given to increasing this budget as it had been frozen for two years and investment in it would bring considerable benefits in terms of social value. It was noted that there was an underspend in Environmental Services and clarification was sought about whether this could be transferred to the Green spaces budget. Officers advised that any underspends would be used to reduce the overall Council overspend.


·       Medway Concessionary Fares Scheme – With reference to the reported reduction in the contract price due to the reduced number of journeys, further information was sought on the reason for this reduction. Officers undertook to take this up with the Integrated Transport Team. 


·       City fibre permit scheme – It was clarified that this provided an income for the Council and enabled it to control when the works took place.


·       Savings within Internal Audit – Asked what type of work was not being done as a result of staff shortages, officers advised that the team was part of the initial cohort of the Medpay review. The service constantly reviewed its workload on a risk-based approach to ensure that the highest risk areas continued to be addressed. 


·       Housing Benefit – Clarification was sought, and the Chief Finance Officer explained that the Council did not receive full subsidy for all benefit paid, leading to a subsidy gap. She also advised that the Council had a good record in recovering housing benefit overpayments.




The Committee noted the results of the second round of revenue budget monitoring for 2022/23 and that Cabinet had instructed senior management to continue to exercise tight control to reduce expenditure within their areas and to identify a range of management actions to reduce expenditure or increase income.


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