The Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Core Services presented a report on the Council’s revenue budget monitoring position for the 2021/22 financial year as at 31 August 2021 (period 5).
The General Fund revenue budget showed a projected net overspend of £10.737m against the budget of £173.614m, which represented an increased deficit of circa £1m on the position reported last month. The Cabinet Member commented that despite the Council adding a net £17.817m of growth to the 2021/22 budget, it came as no surprise that many service budgets continued to overspend due to the significant uplift in demand for services primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the latest data showing almost 50,000 new cases each day and the highest daily death rate since the Spring. With reference to the Government’s decisions to end the national furlough scheme and to cease the £20 per week additional payment to Universal Credit (UC) recipients from early October 2021, the Cabinet Member compared the latest COVID grant allocation from Government of just over £2m to the net loss of approximately £18m for the remainder of the 2021/22 financial year that the 36,000+ local residents on UC would now receive.
The Cabinet Member highlighted some of the key areas of overspend, the pressures on the savings programme, income targets and reserves, and also referred to the risks and opportunities identified in the appendix to the report.
The Government were urged to implement the long-awaited Fair Funding policy which would better reflect the levels of deprivation, poverty and vulnerability within Barking and Dagenham and address the lack of funding that the Council currently received, particularly in the area of social care. Reference was also made to the disparity between the significant level of support that the private sector received from the Government compared to the public sector in response to the COVID pandemic and the misleading statements coming from Government on a number of issues.
Cabinet resolved to:
(i) Note the projected revenue outturn forecast for the 2021/22 financial year as at 31 August 2021, as set out in sections 2 and 3 and Appendix A of the report; and
(ii) Note the update on savings proposals, as set out in section 4 of the report.