Shropshire Council underspends by £764,000 despite pandemic pressures

Shropshire Council underspent on its 2020/21 budget by £764,000 despite the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, figures show.

The report will be discussed by Shropshire Council's cabinet
The report will be discussed by Shropshire Council's cabinet

The council’s end of year position is set out in a new report by finance boss James Walton, which confirms that government grants have covered all extra expenditure and lost income resulting from the pandemic.

This, as well as service savings, has enabled the authority to end the year £764,000 under its budget of £575.46 million.

The report says: “This report provides financial commentary on the 2020/21 financial year; a year dominated by the coronavirus global pandemic.

“Despite this, Shropshire Council has delivered £11.7m savings, 96 per cent of its capital programme and a year-end underspend of £764,000.”

Mr Walton says this is made up of £655,000 ‘controllable’ underspend, representing a 0.11 per cent variance on the budget, and £109,000 ‘uncontrollable’ underspend.

Leftover funds will be added to the council’s general reserves, taking the pot to £14.091m – but the report warns this “remains significantly below the required risk assessed target of £15.482m”.

The report sets out how the council’s finances were impacted by the crisis.

It says: “Shropshire Council approved an original gross budget of over £575m in February 2020, a few weeks before the first national lockdown as a result of the coronavirus global pandemic.

“The 2020/21 financial year has been dominated by the nation’s response to Covid-19 and for the council this led to an emergency response and fundamental changes to service delivery impacting the entire financial year.

“The council had plans to deliver an £18.7m savings programme and a £120m capital programme over the year.

“Instead, government funding of almost £184m flowed into the council to administer on behalf of businesses, communities and residents.

“Over £22m of this funding was un-ringfenced grant to support council services, supplemented by a further £3.6m in sales, fees and charges support and £1.2m furlough funding.”

It adds: “The council has been sufficiently provided with revenue funding relating to Covid-19 in 2020/21, and that therefore no additional costs have had to be funded by the Council’s base budget.”

The report will be presented to the council’s cabinet at a meeting next Wednesday.

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