Agenda Item No.











The projected outturn for the 2013/14 Revenue Budget was set out in Appendix 1 to the report and overall was a forecast for the Council to have a balanced Revenue Budget.  Similarly, there was a forecast estimated balanced budget on the Housing Revenue Account. 


The report detailed the current variances within each of the Directorates’ budget.  In presenting the report, the Head of Financial Services made reference to the continued volatility of the budget in respect of Children and Young People Services with the Residential Placements for Looked After Children projected to overspend by £353,000.  This was an increase of £121,000 from July’s position which was mainly due to one young person moving into residential placement.  In addition, he also referred to the position of Adult Services and as reported to previous meetings of the Scrutiny Committee this budget continued to project an overspend by the year end in the sum of £1,169,000.  Reference was made to areas of savings which had been identified in the current year in the amount of £293,000 over the required target.  This would be used to offset the overspend on Adult Services resulting in a projected overspend for Social Services at year end of £876,000.  He indicated that the budget in respect of both Children and Young People and Adult Services would continue to be closely monitored. 


Reference was also made to the current favourable variance of £225,000 in respect of the Housing General Fund.  This was due to a reduction in the number of homeless individuals requiring emergency accommodation due to a long term increased focus on prevention by the homeless team.  As indicated in the previous report to the Scrutiny Committee it was considered prudent to retain this provision in the anticipation of potential implications of the changes in Welfare Reform. 


During consideration of the report the Committee sought clarification in respect of the following matters:


·                paragraph 22 Waste Management – the reason behind the late notification of grant allocation in respect of Sustainable Waste Management grant

·                paragraph 14 Catering – a breakdown was required of how the £64,000 favourable variance was achieved.


During discussion reference was also made to paragraph 23 Grounds Maintenance and, in particular, matters relating to maintenance arrangements at Rhoose Point and the need to establish a dedicated budget for the future management of Rhoose Point and the nature reserve, specifically in regard to the management of the site and potential future risks for the Council in the event that future funding was not available for the management and maintenance of the area. 


In addition, the Committee also expressed a general view in regard to the future budgetary underspends within the various budgets reported, that these underspends should be utilised to offset overspends in other service areas of the Council.  The Committee suggested that where possible departments be encouraged to increase the rate of underspending and where services had indeed underspent that they should be commended for their prudency.  The Chairman, in referring to the issue of underspends, enquired whether the Cabinet should give consideration to incentivising services by allowing the retention of a percentage of the underspend as opposed to current arrangements which allowed the total amount of the underspend to be carried forward into the next financial year.  The Committee, whilst acknowledging that certain services were demand led and / or seasonal, felt it was imperative that budgets were viewed from the point of the need to ensure that either they outturned on target or they were underspent.


The Head of Financial Services sounded a note of caution in that the profiling of budgets at the start of each financial year was very difficult but given recent announcements by the Welsh Government in regard to budget settlements he acknowledged that it would be difficult for services in the future to carry forward underspends in an effort to reduce funding pressures.  He felt that it was an appropriate time to suggest that the Scrutiny Committee give consideration to how the Council would be able to cope in the future with future financial settlements from the Welsh Government and whether it was now the right time to seek Cabinet’s consideration on how the Scrutiny Committee could assist them in overcoming the impending budgetary challenges.


Discussion ensued with the Committee expressing concern at the ongoing position of Adult Services and agreed that future reports to the Scrutiny Committee should contain monthly actual breakdown of overspends for this service.




(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2013/14 Revenue Budget be noted.


(2)       T H A T the Cabinet be requested to consider the ongoing maintenance commitment of Rhoose Point and the nature reserve (in particularly the management of the site) and to establishing an appropriate budget.


(3)       T H A T the Committee receives a further report in respect of any future liabilities in respect of the maintenance of Rhoose Point and the nature reserve.


(4)       T H A T the Committee receives a further report on the breakdown of the underspend in Catering Services.


(5)       T H A T the Head of Financial Services be requested to ensure that future Revenue Monitoring reports contain a monthly breakdown of actual overspends in respect of Adult Services.


(6)       T H A T the Cabinet be invited to examine the feasibility of introducing incentive schemes to maximise value for money from allocated budgets.


Reasons for recommendations


(1)       To ensure that Members were aware of the projected revenue outturn for 2013/14.


(2)       To establish an appropriate budget.


(3&4)  To keep Members informed.


(5)       To ensure that Adult Services overspend was closely monitored.


(6)       To address the impending budgetary challenges.”





Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 15th October, 2013