Agenda item

End of December corporate budget and performance report

To provide assurance that progress is being made towards achievement of the agreed revenue and service delivery targets, and that the reasons for major variances or potential underperformance are understood and are being addressed to the cabinet’s satisfaction. Cabinet is asked to review projected revenue and capital outturn for 2018/19 and consider performance for the first nine months of the year.


The cabinet member finance and corporate services introduced the report and highlighted the following key points:

·        The projected revenue outturn for 2018/19 was an overspend of £289k, this compared favourably to the same point in 2017/18 when an overspend of £2m was projected;

·        The adults and communities directorate projected a balanced budget through reducing the number of cost of placements while the overspend in the children and families directorate had remained reasonably static since September;

·        A steady increase in people accessing information and advice through WISH had been reported, while it was encouraging that people were using the service there was concern that the number of people needing support was increasing;

·        The uptake of NHS Health Checks had improved but was still below target;

·        Steady progress had been made on recruitment to the HomeFirst service with a full complement expected by the end of March 2019;

·        Following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in April 2018 there had been a 59% increase in footfall and an increase in demand for temporary accommodation, this was impacting on budgets and continued to be managed by the Housing Solutions Team;

·        There was increased demand for nursing provision, the number of block beds available to the council had been increased and projects at Waverley House and Hillside would deliver further capacity;

·        School budgets remained tight, the budget for 2019/20 had recently been approved by the Herefordshire Schools Forum and included the full funding according to the National Funding Formula plus an additional £15 per pupil;

·        Special education needs provision was under review, the council was committed to supporting schools to develop inclusive practices;

·        Herefordshire continued to be below the national average for exclusions and home schooling but numbers had risen in line with national trends;

·        The new local Early Help Assessment (EHA) had replaced the Common Assessment Framework and resulted in an increase in completed assessments meaning more families were being helped earlier;

·        The number of child protection plans remained static, additional capacity had been provided to review current cases and the council’s figures were now below statistical neighbours and below nation and regional figures per 10,000 children;

·        The South Wye Transport Package was progressing to programme;

·        Masterplanning had commenced on options for the Country Bus Station including potential for a new multi-storey car park and intial design feasibility works had been commissioned for stand redevelopment at Hereford Football Club;

·        Ledbury was the first market town to reach referendum stage in its Neighbourhood Development Plan with Leominster’s referendum due on 28 February;

·        The proposed student accommodation block on Station Approach had received planning approval and would be the first significant project through the Development Regeneration Programme;

·        The elections team had completed the canvass, increasing the electoral register by 1%, and planning was underway for council elections on 2 May.


In discussion of the report it was noted that:

·        Table B included projections of schemes likely to come forward and assumptions as to grants that would be received to cover these schemes, the table had been updated to end of December 2018 with additions since the capital programme was last approved by Council in July 2018;

·        Herefordshire was now in the top or second quartile for the vast majority of performance indicators for educational outcomes, showing a significant improvement;

·        Work was continuing to target particular groups, for example to secure higher attainment for pupils eligible for free school meals and in supporting speech and language development in the early years;

·        Progress had been made quickly and effectively to address the weakness identified by Ofsted, work continued to ensure areas continue to improve and did not drift;

·        The decision taken to increase the financial allowance to carers with a Special Guardianship Order was an example of measures to tackle the number of Looked After Children;

·        The recent Ofsted focussed visit noted the improvements made and teams report they are feeling supported by the management team, there was still work to do but the improvements achieved to date should be acknowledged;

·        Work under the national Troubled Families programme was achieving sustained change, with 366 families supported to the end of December 2018;

·        87% of premises were now able to access superfast broadband and this was expected to increase significantly in the next quarter, Herefordshire now had seven out of the top ten wards in the west midlands for full fibre coverage;

·        There had been some slippage in the original timescales of the Fastershire project, this was disappointing but additional properties were being pulled into the contract and the council was on target to deliver full fibre to 50% of rural properties;

·        Officers in adults and communities should be commended for delivering a balanced budget;

·        The take up of NHS Health Checks was still below target despite an improvement in the latest quarter.


Group leaders were invited to express the views of their group. The positive progress in a number of areas was recognised, including delivery of planned savings. Concerns noted were:

·        Herefordshire schools were still poorly funded compared to some and there were a number awaiting replacement buildings or major refurbishment;

·        Whether the council was achieving good value for money from the scheme to provide student accommodation;

·        Poor broadband connectivity remained a problem in some areas;

·        Stress was now back up as the cause of nearly a third of staff absences;

·        The overspend in the children and families directorate, showed a £200k increase since September and was double the figures in June, the pressure from the number of LAC was recognised but the costs needed to be turned around;

·        The majority of underspends arose from reduced borrowing leading to savings on interest payments as investment was slower than planned;

·        Clarification was requested as to whether the continuing overspend in children and families was being funded by delays in planned investments and how expected grant income had changed since the previous quarter report as the capital programme appeared to show a £2.75m net reduction on the previous figures.  


It was confirmed that the S151 Officer would provide clarification on the capital programme outturn.


It was agreed that:

a)     The projected financial outturn and performance for the first nine months of 2018/19 are reviewed and cabinet determines any additional actions required to achieve improvement.


Supporting documents: