The Council’s Audit Committee approved the 2019/20 Statement of Accounts, subject to audit, at the end of May and the Auditors are now working on them. Their audit will be completed in time for the next Audit Committee on the 24 September and the accounts will be available for inspection.
Earlier in the year on 1 May 2020 the Council considered its 2019/20 outturn report. Last year’s overall budget was balanced with a very small underspend of £11k against a budget of £237m. However, it was reported at the time that there were pressures developing in certain Council services, particularly children’s social care and school and other transport related services.
The Chair of the Audit Committee, Jerry O’Keeffe, reminds electors that “From Monday 3 August 2020 to Friday 28 August 2020 (inclusive) between the hours of 9.30 am and 4.15 pm Mondays to Fridays any person interested, on application to the Council’s Chief Officer-Finance and ICT at Lambpit Street, Wrexham, may inspect and make copies of the accounts of the above named Council for the year ended 31 March 2020 and all books, deeds, contracts, bills and vouchers and receipts relating to them.”
At the end of the last financial year, the Covid crisis hit the country and since this date all Councils have been managing their budgets on a month to month basis. At a workshop this week, Members turned their attention to the current year’s financial situation and undertook some preliminary consideration to updating its Medium Term Financial Plans for future years.
As expected, some of the pressures at the end of last year are continuing and they are increasing as a result of the unprecedented Covid-19 situation. Service demand is increasing in the care budgets and the Council is considering how it priorities its limited resources to ensure that the budget is on target to balance in the current year.
It has commenced work on this so that decisions could be made early in the autumn but clearly it is going to be difficult and may involve some services being cut or stopped. The Council is working closely with Welsh Government and the Welsh Local Government Association to ensure that pressures as a direct result of Covid-19 related costs and loss of income are funded by Central Government.
At the moment it is unclear what the situation will be for next year. The UK Government has announced that it is undertaking a Comprehensive Spending Review.
Cllr Mark Pritchard, Leader of the Council and Lead Member for Finance, Performance, Health and Safety and Governance said “We are all under tremendous pressure in local government as a result of the pandemic. In Wrexham we are starting early to tackle the financial situation developing in the current financial year. Clearly all twenty two councils will need the support of Welsh Government in dealing with their Budgets and Covid-19 pressures and in preparing for a difficult period moving into next year.”