The Conservative Group at Cornwall Council are in uproar at the ruling Cabinet not presenting the Council’s 2nd Quarter Performance and Capital Programme Reports at the Cabinet Meeting scheduled for Wednesday November 13.
These are the reports that detail the Council’s financial position for the period to September 30. In previous years similar reports have always been presented at the November Cabinet meeting.
According to officers this delay is caused by the internal process of clearing public Cabinet reports internally & meeting the despatch timescales. However no such problems seem to have arisen in previous years.
These concerns are exasperated by information available on the Council’s own internal information system which is accessible by Councillors. There, a note sets out that savings needed in the current financial year are as at 30 September behind by £6.455 million (see footnote below).
Commenting, David Harris , Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on Cornwall Council said:
“This is completely unacceptable. Papers were circulated for Cabinet with no explanation to Councillors or the people whose money the Council is spending of why these numbers were not available.”
“Do they think we are fools and just will not notice?”
“I have grave concerns that one of the reasons for the delay is that the figures are appalling and this LibDem/Independent administration would rather hold this information back for as long as possible-I wonder why?”
“I am also concerned that we are going to see concerted efforts to move the goalposts on financial reporting; just as an example, tucked away in the papers for a Scrutiny Committee is a proposal that Council will change one of its accounting policies so that loans taken out to finance specific assets are accounted for over 50 rather than 40 years which in accounting terms would save the Council £1,5 million each year starting with the current year.
So if they can get this change through, that is £1.5 million they don’t have to find but if, and I emphasise if, this change is appropriate, why is it only being contemplated now and not long ago. Surely it is just a coincidence that this is happening at the same time as awful figures are being produced, (albeit not to the public)?”
The Council needs to deliver £34.455m of savings in 2019/20 as set in it's Medium Term Financial Plan.
Against this target, it is expected that £28m of savings will be delivered, a shortfall of £6.455m.
However, it is expected that £2.280m of this shortfall will be mitigated through other savings or income generation leaving a net shortfall of £4.175m, a 88% delivery.
The largest shortfall is in Adult Social Care directorate (£5.6m) due to a number of saving plans not being delivered. This is being partially mitigated (£1.6m) through one off vacancy management, recovery of direct payment over-payments and income from out of County placements.
Under delivered savings will be considered in the current budget setting process and removed or re-profiled to ensure a robust budget is set for future years.