HERE is Buckinghamshire Council’s “forecast outturn” from its Budget Monitoring Report – as it stands.

The report, noted by cabinet on Tuesday (July 28), summarises at the end of Q1 the council’s Revenue and Capital outturn position for the financial year 2020/21.

It takes into account financial pressures exerted on the authority by Covid-19, as well as “Business As Usual” (BAU) activities.

Council leader Martin Tett said the figures remain “ambiguous” because they change “week by week” as government and the council adapt to Covid.

He urged they may change again “possibly for the worse” – but that they are the “best guess” the council can make at this point.

Cabinet also met to recommend use of “un-ringfenced” Covid-19 grants.

Read more: Council facing £39 million coronavirus spending bill

Forecast outturn

Revenue funding typically accrues from business rates, council tax and fees collected to run the council day-to-day. Whereas Capital funding typically involves money from central government for major one-off projects.

Buckinghamshire Council’s forecast Revenue overspend for 2020/21 stands at £5.97 million, made up of £3.55 million “unfunded” Covid-19 prescience and “other pressures” of £2.42 million.

Its forecast Capital outturn for the same period is £175.5 million – slippage of £5.24 million. All Capital-funded schemes are now under review, particularly “in light of the pandemic,” said Buckinghamshire Council’s resources chief, councillor Katrina Wood.

“The Covid-19 pressure takes into account our forecast additional costs and lost income of just over £39 million, offset by expected government funding of £35.5 million,” said Cllr Wood.

“However, this does include an estimate of £6.5 million relating to the recent announcement about how government will recompense authorities for lost income.”

The council continues to lobby government for full recovery of all costs and lost income but is still awaiting guidance relating to the income reimbursement scheme. The £3.55 million gap could therefore fluctuate accordingly.

An “un-ringfenced” Covid-19 Emergency Assistance Grant for food and essential supplies is also yet to be allocated by the council in a “quick and appropriate manner,” said Cllr Wood.

Bucks Free Press:

Buckinghamshire Council’s forecast Revenue overspends:

  • Communities – £13.7 million
  • Adults, Health and Housing – £12.6 million
  • Planning, Growth and Sustainability – £7.6 million
  • Children’s Services – £6.1 million
  • Resources – £2.9 million
  • Deputy Chief Executive – £1.32 million

Key variances within Business As Usual (BAU) budgets:

  • Home-to-School Transport – £1.5 million
  • Learning Disabilities – £1.8 million
  • Staffing within Planning, Growth and Sustainability – £0.7 million

Buckinghamshire Council’s forecast Capital outturn:

  • Planning, Growth and Sustainability – £7.26 million underspend
  • Adults, Health and Housing – £3.14 million overspend (£800k partial slippage offset on affordable housing)
  • Children’s Services – £459k overspend (due to an £800k overspend on Chesham Grammar School)
  • Communities – £1.47 million underspend

Bucks Free Press:

Read more: The huge amount of money the council is missing out on by not charging for its car parks

Cllr Tett said any under-collection of business rates or council tax is rolled over to next year’s budget, creating a “bigger mountain to climb”.

In some areas the council is also consolidating legacy budgets from pervious councils since it became a unitary authority on April 1.

The council has also received £2.9 million in “corporate contingencies that can offset some of the directorate pressures”.

“This is an incredibly uncertain time for local government finance,” said council chief executive Rachael Shimmin.

“Local government touches every aspect of life in communities, all of which have been impacted by Covid. The numbers will absolutely change during the course of this year and we will need to respond accordingly to ensure the council remains, as far as is possible, within budget.”

Cabinet voted in its majority to approve use of un-ringfenced Covid-19 grants.

Important notice: Free parking in the county’s council sites to support high street shopping will end July 31.