The Budget Monitoring Report sets out the Capital, Housing Revenue and General Fund Revenue budget performance to the end of December 2021.
The Chair invited the Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer to present the Budget Monitoring Report. She explained that the report was for the period ending December 2021.
Starting with the General Fund (GF), it was noted that there was an underspend of £1.178m against profiled budget at the end of the third quarter which was an improvement of £774k from the previous month. Income continued to be significantly buoyant and Planning fees in particular were £680k above expected. However, there were budget pressures on the GF Housing (homelessness and rough sleeping, and potentially the leisure provider). A favourable outturn was therefore anticipated of over a £1m on the GF. The Housing Revenue Account continued to operate under significant pressure particularly in the areas of planned and responsive maintenance. With regards to the Capital and Special Projects, there continued to be a significant underspend against budgets and these budgets continued to be reviewed.
The Chair invited questions. The below expected income from the Bognor Regis Arcade was raised and it was asked how this compared with previous quarters or other accounting periods, whether it was getting worse and what the prospects were for retrieving the significant sums in rent arrears. It was confirmed that there were specific pandemic-related issues with the site and that new managing agents had been procured working to explore these challenges. An update report would be submitted for Members to consider soon. Clarification was sought over items listed under 2.8.3 [on page 55 of the Agenda Pack] - the £35k spent on the Trisanto update, the £18K spent on the Palmer Road Community Sports Hub Review and the £30k spent on Economic Regeneration Project Delivery Role. The Director of Place confirmed that with regards to the £35K spent on Trisanto, this was the potential sum set aside to do the work but the eventual actual cost of the work had been far less at around £14k. A report would be taken to the next meeting of the Economy Committee on 29 March 2022 to explore the continued use of this company. The Director of Services confirmed that with regards to the £18K spent on the Palmer Road Community Sports Hub Review, this was for exploratory consultancy work looking at the project. The Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer confirmed that the figures under discussion had been vired and not spent, and all had been subject to Committee approvals.
Other points raised by Members included further concern for the situation around the Bognor Regis Arcade, clarification around the proposals within the A27/Ford Road Junction Study, and praise for the work done on the Palmer Road Community Sports Hub.
Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Roberts and seconded by Councillor Cooper,
RESOLVED - That
(1) The earmarked reserves are approved and reviewed before the end of the financial year as per previous policy to ensure that they are available to fund future years expenditure or returned to the General Fund if no longer required; and
(2) The Housing Revenue Account repairs and maintenance (Planned and Responsive) budget continues to be closely monitored to ensure that any necessary corrective action is taken if required.