Decision Maker: Executive Board
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Extended Government COVID Local Support Grant funding of £160m was announced on 22nd June 2021, of which Leeds was allocated £2.67m. It is proposed to use this funding to provide free school meals during the 2021 school summer holidays, however the allocation is not sufficient to fund the full six weeks. Executive Board are asked to approve the release of £0.52m from the COVID reserve to provide the additional funding required.
The Chief Officer (Financial Services) submitted a report which presented an update on the financial health of the Authority in respect of both the General Fund revenue budget and also the Housing Revenue Account, as at month 2 of the current financial year. In addition, the report made a specific recommendation regarding the delivery of free school meals during the 2021 school summer holidays.
In presenting the report, the Executive Member for Resources specifically highlighted the in-year collection rates for Council Tax and Business Rates which were lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Members considered the proposal within the report regarding a release from the COVID Reserve in order to support the delivery of free school meals during the 2021 school summer holidays, with specific discussion around the timing of the proposal and the Government’s role in such matters. Responding to a Member’s specific enquiry, officers undertook to provide the Member in question with further details on what the balance of the Covid Reserve would be following that release.
The Board discussed the potential release of funding from the Covid Reserve to help address one-off backlogs in some Council services which had built up as a result of the pandemic. In response to a Member’s enquiry about Elected Member consultation on such matters, it was noted that the intention was for the Board to receive further reports regarding the utilisation of this fund.
Finally, a Member commented upon the current format of the financial dashboards, as appended to the submitted report, highlighting that they would welcome the inclusion of further detail as part of future editions.
(a) That the projected financial position of the Authority, as at Month 2 of the financial year, as detailed within the submitted report, be noted, together with the projected impact of COVID-19 on that position;
(b) That it be noted, that for 2021/22 the Authority is forecasting an overspend of £0.2m;
(c) That it be noted that the position detailed within the submitted report does not reflect the potential effects of any further local or national lockdown arrangements on these financial projections, or any potential additional costs arising from the current 2021/22 pay negotiations;
(d) That the release of £0.52m from the COVID Reserve in order to support the delivery of free school meals during the 2021 school summer holidays, be agreed, and that it be noted that the officer responsible for the implementation of this resolution is the Chief Officer, Financial Services.
Reason Key: Financial Impact>£500K;
Contact: Victoria Bradshaw, Chief Officer - Financial Services Email: Victoria.Bradshaw@leeds.gov.uk.
Publication date: 23/07/2021
Date of decision: 21/07/2021
Decided at meeting: 21/07/2021 - Executive Board
Effective from: 31/07/2021