Preston city council are offered a slight financial respite with their latest accounts update.Advertisement
Officers have sent a report to the council’s cabinet detailing how the Town Hall is currently £728,000 better off than anticipated in its budget.
But the man in charge of the council’s finances, councillor Martyn Rawlinson, said although there had been extra income they were not banking on an improved financial position.
In February the council announced it had to find £3.6 million in savings over the next three years.
But the likes of the snooker coming to the Guild Hall and high profile court cases in the city have boosted car parking revenues. The Bus Station has taken in an extra £32,000 which the council puts down to recent events.
A change in council tax benefit means the city council retains recovered overpayments, adding £161,000 to the council’s coffers.
Elsewhere the recent work on Fulwood Leisure Centre has cost the council an estimated £29,000 in receipts while parts of it were closed for improvement works, but West View Leisure Centre saw demand for swimming increase leading to more cash coming through the tills.
Councillor Rawlinson said the improved financial position would not help in the long-term.
He said: “At first glance, the council appears substantially better off than forecast. Most of the extra cash however, almost three-quarters of a million pounds, will not help the council’s financial position in the long term because it is one-off income. While some of the underspend will help the council’s balances, these balances are set to reduce while the council implements the £3.6million required budget savings.
“One third of the ‘underspend’ is ‘slippage,’ funding earmarked for particular projects that will be spent in the coming year instead of last year. Another £161,000 is a windfall from the recovery of extra housing benefit overpayments that DWP let us keep. A further £76,000 was future savings targets achieved early through the speedy actions of officers quickly getting to grips with the financial situation.
“This leaves less than a quarter of a million pounds which may contain some savings that really help us, recurring savings, but this still requires further analysis.
“It is a welcome financial outturn report in the circumstances but unfortunately not the answer to our situation. Improved balances will help the council manage the huge changes we face from drastically reduced budgets in the next few years. It will not allow us to change direction. Major policy decisions like the funding cuts to the Guild Hall and parks will be unaffected.
“Our reduced capital spend is also being tightly managed and the council remains committed to investing in Preston Markets.
“The council’s shrinking investment portfolio has achieved better than forecast but returns are still a fraction of pre-credit crunch interest rates.”
The council’s cabinet meet on Wednesday 18 June to discuss the report.
You can view the full report on the council website.
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