Council publishes final year-end financial report following challenging and unpredictable year

Council publishes final year-end financial report following challenging and unpredictable year

Conservative led Wiltshire Council has published its financial year end position for 2020/21, which details the most challenging circumstances it has ever faced, but also highlights the areas where key investments have been made to support the county and its communities through this difficult time.

The revenue and capital report will be formally presented at the next Cabinet meeting, due to take place on 13 July.

The council approved a net budget for 2020/21 of £344.023m at its meeting on 25 February 2020, but less than a month later, the pandemic would have a big impact on those plans.

The report confirms that the final figure received by the Government from its sales, fees, charges, and income compensation loss grant scheme was £7.119m. This figure helped to offset the loss of significant income in areas such as leisure centres and parking fees.

The overall deficit for Wiltshire Council's share of the council tax stands at around £3.730m, and for business rates it is £2.440m, net of grants from government.

The council's capital programme, which helps improve the county's infrastructure, was originally agreed in February 2020 at a budget £261.535m. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, the council deferred some programmes and projects to a time when they would realistically be delivered. As a result, the final capital programme budget for 2020/21 stood at £127.743m.

Despite the challenges, the council continued to invest in key areas in 2020/21 to improve the lives of residents and their communities.

This included:

  • Significant improvement works to school buildings
  • Works completed at Chippenham Station Hub
  • Bringing forward key highway projects due to reduced traffic during lockdown periods
  • Progress on the LED project to convert 40,000 streetlights - expected to be complete by December
  • Area board grants being awarded to key projects such as a community shop in Salisbury, a delivery van to support Devizes and District Foodbank, and to Community Digital Divide to purchase and refurbish digital devices to support disadvantaged primary aged children.
  • Work being completed on Calne and Cricklade Campuses - transforming leisure centres into a modern, refurbished facilities
  • The Council House Build programme completing 26 units

Conservative Cllr Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for Finance and Procurement, said:

Financially, this past year has certainly been the most unpredictable and challenging since Wiltshire Council came into existence. However, our prudent planning and excellent track record of robust financial management gave us a strong foundation from which to work from. It allowed us to be flexible to the ever-changing circumstances, while still providing opportunities to invest in the future of the county.

There's no doubt that more challenges lie ahead, but we'll continue to carefully plan and ensure that the council is in a strong position to help the county emerge from this pandemic, thriving.

The full Cabinet agenda can be found at here.

by Charlie Monro,