Agenda item

August Budget Monitoring

To provide an update to the Joint Committee on the financial position of Orbis at the end of August 2018. 


Declarations of interest:



Michael Coughlin, Director of Customer, Digital and Transformation, Surrey County Council

Kevin Foster, Chief Operating Officer, East Sussex County Council

David Kuenssberg, Executive Director of Finance and Resourcing, Brighton and Hove City Council

Louise Lawson, Senior Principal Accountant, Surrey County Council

Adrian Stockbridge – Head of Strategy, Performance & Change, Surrey County Council


Key points raised during the discussion:

1.         Clarity was sought on why the Full Year Variances for Services within the Orbis Partnership had been omitted from the report. Officers indicated that spending across service areas was difficult to predict several months prior to the end of the financial year due to a lack of clarity around potential areas of underspend and overspend. Members were, however, advised that there was the likelihood of an underspend of £100,000 within the Finance Team, a saving which would benefit all partners. Further information was requested on whether the savings forecast for Orbis in 2018/19 were achievable and the Committee was advised that there was uncertainty around some of the savings projected but that steps were being taken to mitigate the risks to delivering these.

2.         Discussions turned to the Orbis Joint Operating Budget for the financial year 2018/19, the Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) contribution to which had been increased by £0.2 million. Members were informed that this was a technical adjustment in BHCC’s financial contribution to Orbis as funding allocations had been moved from one area of the budget to another. This enabled the variance to be agreed through BHCC’s Targeted Budget Management process. Officers agreed to highlight variations in BHCC’s contribution to Orbis more clearly through financial reporting mechanisms in future.

3.         Further information was requested on the overspend within the Property Service. The Committee was advised that it may be necessary to recruit more staff into the Property Service to meet core objectives. Members heard that the Service was holding a number of vacancies and that a restructure would be undertaken in 2019 to determine posts that could be deleted.

4.         Clarity was sought on progress that had been made in implementing the recommendations made through the Internal Audit report. Members were advised that the audit had taken place immediately following BHCC’s inclusion in the partnership which meant that delivering against these recommendations was about continued integration. Specific reference was made to the work of the Finance Team which was working to automate more aspects of its financial reporting and the support that it provided to individual services with the partnership.

5.         The Committee was advised that the Property & Design Service within BHCC had resisted efforts to integrate with Orbis which had not been as proactive as other BHCC services in terms of integration with Orbis which had created some challenges around implementing Orbis budget processes. Efforts were being made to ensure that this service plays a bigger part in budget processes. BHCC would become part of the budget setting and management process from the 2019/2020 financial year and this would support a sense of shared ownership of the Orbis budget. Members heard that BHCC had long established processes in place for managing service budgets and that there had been some challenges associated with moving onto Orbis budget management processes.

Actions/ further information to be provided:

1. Variations to BHCC’s contribution to the Orbis Partnership budget to be highlighted more clearly within BHCC’s financial reporting in future.


That the Orbis Joint Committee:

i.          noted the Orbis operating budget variance of -£0.2m at year end;

ii.          noted the£1m estimated full year spend on Orbis investment;

iii.         noted the year to date spend of £0.8m on redundancies;

iv.        noted the agency expenditure of £0.6m (2% of staffing);

v.         noted the Services plan to achieve £4.6m efficiencies by year end;

vi.        noted the Audit report on Orbis budget management; and

vii.        approved the £0.04m transfer to the Orbis operating budget.

Supporting documents: