Matt Sanham, Acting Director of Operations introduced the report and made the following comments:
· This report had already been taken to cabinet on 13 October 2022;
· A forecast overspend had been made of just under £1.8 million against the General Fund revenue budget;
· One of the main reasons for the overspend was the additional demand in the housing service with more homelessness placements;
· In response to this the council had revised and was delivering on the new Homelessness Strategy Action Plan. Officer were regularly monitoring the levels of homelessness, recruiting new staff and commissioning new services to address the increasing need for support;
· Additionally agency staff had been brought in by the waste and recycle service;
· Gas and electricity cost increases had also affected the budget performance;
· The General Fund Capital Programme reflected substantial underspend. This was due to the phasing and timing of grant funded projects some of which were recommended to be slipped into the later years of the capital programme;
· In the HRA there was marginal cost overspend of £119k against the General Fund budget. On the other hand with the Capital Programme there proposals for the variations of a number of budgets so that the budget profile was closer matched to the revised expectations for the time and future spending
Members made comments and asked questions as follows:
· Waste and Recycling: The Council relies heavily on agency staff. Was the council trying to investigate possible alternatives around growing staff in the service without relying more on agency staff?
· The crematorium income: Increasing cost of gas would seriously affect cremation costs. Would these costs be passed on to families or would government assist councils?
· The Coastal Project income from Southern Water: Some o the money had been offered to town councils to refurbish the lifts;
· Ramsgate Town Council had been waiting for some feedback from TDC regarding this fund.
Matt Sanham responded to Member comments and questions as follows:
· The council had always relied on agency staff for the waste and recycling service because on the nature of the business. If for example was unable to turn up to work, the council would be forced to resort to agency staff to ensure that the service was not disrupted;
· Covid affected the service to an extent as crew staff work in close quarters. That meant that if one member of staff got covid, a number of the staff working in the same crew would most likely be affected. During covid there was an average of fifteen staff who would be off sick due to covid at any one time, forcing the council to resort to agency staff;
· There was generally a shortage of HGV driver across the country and as a result costs or drivers were going up. In other sectors some HGV drivers were paid as much as £60k per year which the council could not afford;
· Council was working on coming up with a training programme to train up new drivers, whilst retaining the current ones;
· The crematorium cost: Officers were building into the 2023/24 budget strategy, the capacity to deal with the uncertainties of fuel costs. The overspend showing in the report was a demonstration of the fact the council had absorbed the additional costs that came in as a results of the increases in inflationary increases. Fees and charges were also being reviewed;
· Southern Water Coastal Project fund: There was an original proposal when the money was received for town and parish councils but no council had come forward to accept the proposals. Matt Sanham was going to check on whether there were any submissions that had been made to TDC by the parishes.
Members noted the report.