Hertfordshire County Council expects to overspend by £1.67m by end of 21/22

Financial data for the first half of the 21/22 financial year was presented to a meeting of the council’s resources and performance cabinet panel

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 3:47 pm

Hertfordshire County Council is reporting an expected ‘operational’ overspend of £1.672m by the end of the financial year, according to the latest available data.

The county council – whose services include social care, education, waste disposal, highways and public health – has an annual revenue budget on £893.89m.

And on Wednesday, December 1, financial data for the first half of the 21/22 financial year was presented to a meeting of the council’s resources and performance cabinet panel.

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Hertfordshire County Council expects to overspend by £1.67m by end of 21/22

Councillors heard that overall the council was expected to end the 2021/22 financial year with a £1.67m operational overspend.

However the county council does have contingencies that are well in excess of that sum.

According to the report to the panel, by the end of the financial year Covid related costs are forecast to be in excess of £35m – which will be covered within the ‘Covid-19 emergency funding’.

But it also warns of financial uncertainty related to the ongoing pandemic.

“This financial position must be viewed with a degree of caution as uncertainty is still very high as the organisation and the local population recovers from the pandemic,” says the report.

And it says there are “significant pressures” in the health and social care system, as a result of the ongoing impact of hospital discharges – leading to increased social care demand with higher levels of acuity.

Nevertheless at the meeting executive member for resources an performance Cllr Bob Deering said that council finances were in “very good shape”.

“In all the circumstances that we face this is a hugely impressive report,” he said.

“Our finances are in very good shape right now.

“Yes, of course there are challenges as we look forward. But in comparison with many other councils – right across the country – we are in a terrific position.

“That is to do with decision-making and the excellence of our officers for which we are very very grateful.”

According to the report presented to the cabinet panel, the ‘most notable’ ‘service pressure’ is £2.2m in children’s services, where pressures were reported to relate to SEN transport, children looked after transport costs and ‘special guardianship orders’.

The report also included information on the council’s contingency fund, debts owed to the council and investment returns.

According to the report the council started the financial year with a ‘contingency’ of around £13.2m.

Of that £5m has been set aside to help manage Covid-19 pressures, £1.5m has been allocated to SEND investment and £1.67 would be used to fund the predicted operational overspend.

As a result finance officers are projecting that by the end of the 2021/22 financial year the remaining ‘contingency’ will have dropped to £5.155m.