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South Holland District Council hails better than expected financial figures and says they 'won't be cutting CDs in half' after split

Council bosses have hailed a better than expected set of financial figures for South Holland, despite the challenges posed by Covid.

The district council ended the 2020/21 financial year with a £125,000 general fund underspend - as well as a £471,000 underspend on its Housing Revenue Account (HRA)

The figures were discussed at Wednesday night’s full council meeting where Coun Peter Coupland, portfolio holder for finance, said: “All in all it was not the massive overspend some of us were expecting a year ago.

Coun Peter Coupland
Coun Peter Coupland

“Government grants, running the council lean – particularly on officers – and service departments looking after their budgets has seen us through the most difficult of years this council has ever had.”

The council received a £1.34million Government grant for Covid which helped pay for the additional costs on refuse collection, to run the South Holland Centre and making the authority ‘Covid compliant’. Almost £500,000 helped cover the loss of income through things such as planning fees and car park revenue.

A report for councillors said £27,000 was spent on a leaflet drop and other Covid awareness measures.

The general fund underspend was put down to the support from grants as well as factors such as a reduced spend on homelessness. A total of £44,000 was saved through the temporary closure of Ayscoughfee Museum.

The HRA underspend was due mainly to the reduced cost of repairs and maintenance.

Councillors agreed to transfer the general fund underspend into the Council Tax Reserve while HRA cash will fund future housing spending.

The council did not borrow more last year and its balance sheet resources – including revenue and capital resources and cash flow – rose from £40.1million to £49.3million.

'We're not sharing out the CDs'

Officers based in Breckland will continue to work for South Holland, despite the two councils’ amicable divorce.

The two districts ended their shared relationship this year – with South Holland about to enter into a new deal with Boston and East Lindsey.

However, part of the agreement with Breckland ensured that South Holland can still call on officers that it doesn’t have in its own team.

At Wednesday’s full meeting, South Holland councillors agreed to enter a ‘section 113 agreement’ to formalise the deal for legal services, procurement and contracts and environmental protection business support.

Some councillors had been confused by the move, but council leader Gary Porter told members that this was always part of the plan when splitting from Breckland.

He explained: “Rather than cutting CDs in half and doing whatever it is you do when you split up we were quite mature and said you can borrow the CDs.”

Councillors were told that the agreement will last for six months, but decisions on individuals could be taken at short notice if needed.

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