Scrutiny Councillors discuss ongoing impacts of the pandemic on finances; Q1 Budget Monitoring Report 2021-22

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Scrutiny Councillors on the Service Improvement and Finance Panel have discussed the Q1 Budget Monitoring Report 2021/22 with the Chief Finance Officer.

The Panel heard that whilst it is too early to confidently forecast final variations on Directorate expenditure, officers felt that due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and based on the 2020-21 final position on collection, that there will be a shortfall in the region of £2m in 2021-22.

Swansea Council is setting out plans in the ‘Recovery Plan Service Transformation Programme’ that will see services for communities transformed to meet the challenges of a post Covid-19 era. The Panel heard that within this, work is continuing to develop service delivery plans linked to savings targets and prioritisation of services.

The Panel heard that £4.8M has been received to date from Welsh Government in relation to additional costs and/or loss of income.

Officers explained that the economic impact of the Covid pandemic on rent collection rates is being closely monitored.

In regards to Council Tax collection, Panel Members questioned whether Welsh Government will meet the reported shortfall of £2M. Officers acknowledged this is an on-going issue, given the strain on people’s finances and confirmed that Welsh Government continues to monitor this issue.

The increase in National Insurance contributions was also discussed, Panel Members questioned why it is, in real terms, costing more than the 1.25% increase. Officers explained that in effect it was actually a 10% increase (1% on a 10% tax)

The Panel requested a statement regarding the energy price increases, and the effect on Swansea Council. Officers have provided a briefing note, which has been published on the council website and can be viewed here.

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