Agenda item


Revenue Budget

The overall position as at the end of September showed an underspend of £0.4m.   Trends were being monitored to ensure that they were reflected in future year’s budgets, as well as being reported to Resources Committee. 


We previously reported that there was a potential shortfall of £273k in Section 31 grant in relation to Business Rates Relief for 2019/20.  Although we had still not had confirmation, we believed that we met the criteria as set out by MHCLG in order for them to pay a one off grant of £273k.  As such, we did not reduce the budgeted grant income for 2019/20.


In addition, since the last meeting we have received the balance of the Section 31 grant funding in relation to the Winter Hill incident of 2018.  We had anticipated claiming this under the Bellwin scheme, which had an element of self-funding (circa £109k), however as it was paid under Section 31 grant we have been reimbursed for the full costs, leaving a surplus of £109k in year.


In terms of the year end forecast we had anticipated an underspend of approx. £0.3m due in the main to the additional grant for Winter Hill, for USAR and the adjustment to the council tax collection figure (as previously reported). As outlined in the Treasury Management Mid-Year Update report we were proposing making an additional voluntary Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) payment of £187k, in order to reduce the borrowing requirement to zero, fully providing for existing loan repayment or to offset future loan drawdowns. After allowing for this the current year end forecast showed a £0.1m underspend.


It was noted that in line with recent court/ombudsman rulings in respect of the pensionability of allowances a review of all our allowances was being undertaken to determine which were pensionable and which were not. Whilst the review was on-going it was clear that if any allowances were made pensionable then this would impact on the revenue budget, however at this early stage we had not reflected this in the forecast as presented. We would update the forecasts as the position became clearer, and provide an updated report to members at the appropriate time.


The year to date positions within individual departments were set out in the report with major variances relating to non-pay spends and variances on the pay budget being shown separately in the table below: -



Overspend/ (Under spend) to 30 Sept

Forecast Outturn at 31 March






Service Delivery



The variance to date and forecast outturn both reflect:-

·        An additional £58k of grant being allocated to the USAR Team by Government, this announcement only being made after the budget was set

·        The additional income generated at Preston due to the extension of the lease arrangement with NWAS until September 2020, generating an additional £25k in 2019/20.

Winter Hill



As previously reported, we anticipated claiming under Bellwin for the Winter Hill incident, however we had now received the funding via Section 31 grant and had been reimbursed £109k, the full cost of the incident.




The overspend position related to premises repairs and maintenance, with lighting and drill yard works being carried out at several fire stations. This was a timing issue and reflected orders raised to date for work which had not yet been undertaken. Hence we were forecasting a broadly balanced year end position

Other Non-DFM



The majority of the underspend to date reflected the additional council tax collection fund surplus of £59k due from one of the billing authorities as previously reported.

The majority of the forecast overspend reflected the funding gap identified at the time of setting the budget in February and the additional MRP contribution outlined earlier.

Whole-time Pay (less Associate Trainers)



There were a number of factors contributing to the underspend on whole-time pay at the end of September. The most significant of which were:

·        The Service currently held six more vacancies than allowed for in the budget due to personnel retiring earlier than forecast and a slight shortfall in the number of recruits who commenced on station in April. This gave rise to an underspend of £64k to date.

·        In addition, the grade mix of personnel and the high number paid at development rates of pay result in a further underspend of approx. £110k.

·        Overtime payments over the summer annual leave period had been higher than budgeted, reflecting the overall vacancies as highlighted above and the support provided to on-call stations, generated an overspend of £68k to date.  Given the current recruits course was due to complete in January we anticipate the level of overtime reducing in the second half of the year.

·        In addition a number of personnel had opted out of the pension scheme. The budget was based on the actual number of ‘opt outs’ at the time of setting the budget. However this had now increased to 35 with the 4 additional ‘opt outs’ generating a saving of approx. £20k.

·        Offsetting this, Associate Trainer costs were £55k higher than budgeted, reflecting additional usage of associates to cover vacancies at TOR and to meet temporary demand for trainers in excess of current staffing levels.


As a result of these the overall whole-time budget was underspent by approx. £71k after 6 months of the year. However to put this into context that represented a variance of less than 0.5% of the budget at the end of September.


Some of these variances were a timing issue, as new recruits started, personnel were promoted and as personnel achieved competency and were paid accordingly. This was reflected in the forecast outturn position shown, an anticipated underspend of £227k. However this was dependent upon how many further personnel left before reaching their projected retirement date.




The budget was broadly in line at the end of September. This was reflected in the forecast outturn position, which was based on average activity levels during the second half of the year, and vacancies remaining at a consistent level.

Support staff (less agency staff)



The underspend to date and forecast related to vacant posts across various departments, which were in excess of the vacancy factor built into the budget. The majority of these vacancies were currently undergoing recruitment, with an assumed 3 month gap in costs (although recruitment of technical specialists in ICT and Knowledge Management continued to take longer).

Note agency staff costs to date of £57k were replacing vacant support staff roles, this accounted for less than 2% of total support staff costs.


Capital Budget

Following on from September Resources Committee we the amended programme stood at £3.6m. 


In terms of the programme, the current position, shown in appendix 2 and summarised below, showed committed expenditure to the end of September of £3.0m: -



Committed Expenditure to Sept 2019






Pumping Appliances


The budget allowed for the remaining stage payments for 7 pumping appliances for the 2018/19 programme, for which the order had been placed in January 2018.   Phased delivery of these vehicles was anticipated in the last quarter of the financial year.

Other vehicles


This budget allowed for the replacement of various operational support vehicles, the most significant of which was the Water Tower, which was delivered during quarter one.


In addition to these, the budget allowed for various support vehicles which were reviewed prior to replacement.  We currently anticipated completing the purchase of the majority of these within the financial year.

Operational Equipment


This budget allowed for completion of the kitting out of three reserve pumping appliances, which were part of the 2018/19 programme, in addition to providing a £50k budget for innovations in fire-fighting to be explored.

Building Modifications


This budget allows for:


·        Refurbishment of the Fire House, where work was completed in July, and where we had incurred costs of £287k to date.

·        Based on the latest stock condition survey, several stations had identified upgrades to dormitory and shower facilities. Plans had been finalised and were currently being costed prior to moving to procurement.


Anticipated in-year spend would depend upon the final procurement route for the above projects and on Property department capacity to deliver the works.

IT systems


The replacement station end project had now commenced with equipment ordered and due for delivery in the current calendar year, with installation following thereafter.


The budget also allowed for the replacement of the Services wide area network (WAN) providing an enhanced network and improving speed of use across the Service. The order had been placed and work was underway to install this. We anticipated this project being completed in the current calendar year

The budget also allowed for replacement Storage Area Network, the hardware for which had been delivered in quarter one, and would be configured for use in due course.


The balance of the budget related to the replacement of various systems, in line with the ICT asset management plan. Reviews carried out had identified two systems which did not need replacing at this time, hence the underspend shown.  We were still reviewing the need to replace others, hence further updates on progress would confirm which replacements were being actioned in the current year and anticipated spend profiles.


The committed costs to date would be met by revenue contributions and usage of capital reserves.


Delivery against savings targets

The current position on savings targets identified during the budget setting process was reported.  It was anticipated that we would meet our efficiency target for the financial year.


The Director of Corporate Services provided an overview for Members of the distinction between funding received via Section 31 grant and funding received via Bellwin.


RESOLVED: - That the Committee noted and endorsed the financial position.

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