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Birmingham City Council predicts budget underspend despite [pounds sterling]5.8m bin strike; Finance boss says the cost can be 'absorbed'.

Byline: Carl Jackson

Birmingham City Council is predicting an underspend on this year's budget despite the [pounds sterling]5.8m cost of the latest bin strike.

The forecast is a remarkable turnaround for the authority which overshot its 2017/18 books by [pounds sterling]21m and had to raid the reserves by [pounds sterling]63.1m in total that year - in part because of the 2017 bin strike.

But Clive Heaphy, corporate director for governance and finance, told the Resources committee last week (Thursday, March 21) that the cost of this year's bin strike, which was settled last week, could be 'absorbed' in the 2018/19 budget.

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He said: "I have been working with my team to do a deep dive on month 11, bare in mind we are now two weeks away from the financial year end, to have a look at areas where we are underspending and where we are overspending.

"This is a normal exercise we go through late in the year to have a look where the money is, and based on the numbers I have seen so far from early emerging month 11 figures I'm satisfied that that cost of [pounds sterling]5.8m can be absorbed for the current year and we'll still underspend for the current year as an overall."

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It should be noted the [pounds sterling]5.8m cost of the bin strike is a conservative figure which only factors in the cost of contingency measures such as agency crews during industrial action, the settlements to striking workers and legal fees.

It does not cater for other things such as increased landfill and losses to bulky, green and trade waste collections which have yet to be quantified.

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Mr Heaphy addressed the committee whilst discussing the month 10 budget monitoring report which forecast a budget overspend of [pounds sterling]3.2m - a [pounds sterling]5.2m improvement from the previous month which predicted a [pounds sterling]2m overspend.

Whilst the month 10 position had not taken into account the bin strike costs, he said a similar budget underspend was forecast for the end of the year because of continued financial improvements.

It was also confirmed during the meeting thatthe council has been issued with its third section 24 warning noticefrom auditors in four years.

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Credit: Birmingham Mail

Striking bin workers outside the Redfern Depot in Tyseley

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Publication:Birmingham Post (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2019
Words:442
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