Hart Makes Excuses in Answers to Questions

Hart Makes Excuses in Answers to Questions

Hart Makes Excuses in Answers to Questions

We asked questions at last week’s full Council Meeting. Unfortunately, we got a lot of excuses and not much in the way of concrete information. In summary:

  • Apparently, they were told by the Government to budget for the full amount due under the leisure contract in order to qualify for compensation. Now they’re sitting on a £700K loss year-to date. Apparently, they expect to lose the entire £1.4m they budgeted for the full year. This loss was not even identified as a risk in the budget that was signed off by Council in February 2021.
  • They are transferring £1.393m from reserves to cover the Leisure Centre losses. This reserve apparently comes from a VAT refund received some time ago. We tried to press to ask what sports facilities will not now be delivered. Apparently, spending this money doesn’t affect anything else. We remain to be convinced because it was the Cabinet minutes that revealed what the funds were earmarked for:
Hart Leisure Centres Bailed Out from Reserves

Hart Leisure Centres Bailed Out from Reserves

  • The excuse for producing an Infrastructure Delivery Plan where 72% of the projects are not costed is that the IDP is “a living document”. The last version we can find is dated February 2018. It may be just about be alive, but it’s been in hibernation since then. It’s disgraceful that they are producing such shoddy documents. We have been assured a further version will be produced after the CIL consultation has been completed.

The full Q&A session can be found here (p5 onwards)

Hart Makes Excuses Details

Question 1:

  • According to the FY21/22 budget book (account 91019), the track record of actual and budget for income from the Leisure Centres is:
  • FY18/19: £828K actual
  • FY19/20: £1,268K actual
  • FY20/21: £633K budget
  • FY21/22: £1,407K budget.

What was the thinking behind setting the budget at that level and what plans were made to deliver record revenue from the Leisure Centres during a pandemic?

Answer: Hart District Council has a contractual arrangement with Everyone Active (EA); for robust commercial reasons this was used as the budget for 21/22. The Government recognised the contractual position for Local Authorities and to
mitigate the worst adverse impact introduced a compensation scheme. The scheme is linked to the published Budget Book. The 20/21 Budget Book reflects the contracted management fee with Sports Leisure Management Ltd.

The budget accounts for the management fee contractually agreed with EA, it is not directly dependent upon Leisure Centre usage. A new contractual arrangement is being entered into moving forward which takes account of the anticipated pandemic recovery trajectory.

Supplementary: If the budget was set at £1,407k and government support was expected to that level,
why is income down £700k at the halfway point.

Supplementary Answer: The government compensation scheme does not cover for the full amount, but is based
upon the set budget, which reflected the contractual agreement with EA. The government gives some of the money based the budget not all, which is why it has fallen short. The amount entered into the budget book was correct as that it is what we would expect under the contract with EA in normal circumstances.

Question 2:

The Q2 Monitoring report shows that the Leisure Centres are reported to have a shortfall in income of £700K YTD and Cabinet papers indicate that this shortfall will be made up from reserves earmarked for Sports Facilities. However, note 5.11.1 in the draft accounts sets out the details of earmarked reserves and does not explicitly mention a reserve for Sports Facilities. Can you please explain exactly how much is being transferred and where the money is coming from?

Hart Council Earmarked Reserves

Hart Council Earmarked Reserves

Answer: There is an earmarked reserve with funding set aside from a historic VAT refund on leisure services to the value of £1.393k. This reserve forms part of Corporate Services earmarked reserves. The reserve will be used as needed depending on our review of open book income and expenditure on the contract with Everyone Active.

To be clear this is revenue budget money and is not taking away from any leisure services capital reserves or Section 106 funding.

Supplementary: What risk is there of a further reserve transfer next year?

Supplementary Answer: The budget to be approved in February anticipates the contractual amount we will receive from EA, so there should be no need for a further transfer, as we are producing a balanced budget.

Hart Makes Excuses Question 3:

The recently published Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) shows a funding gap of £57.9m. However, 72% of the projects identified remain un-costed. What is the realistic estimate of the full infrastructure funding gap and when will a complete IDP be published?

Hart Infrastructure Plan 72% uncosted

Hart Makes Excuses – Hart Infrastructure Plan 72% un-costed

Answer: The Infrastructure Delivery Plan is a living document, which is reported to Cabinet and Overview & Scrutiny at regular intervals. The report referenced in the question is the one presented to those committees in November. The next iteration of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan is due to be presented in the spring. This will have an updated estimate of
the funding requirements and the shortfall.

Supplementary: The indication in November was that there is that the CIL contribution will meet of ¼ of
the IDP funding. What is the impact on the CIL consultation if you are to republish a ‘proper’ IDP in three months’ time?

Supplementary Answer: The results of the CIL consultation will inform the next iteration of the IDP, but government mandates that the IDP must be set up with a shortfall to allow for developer contributions and other funding mechanisms to operate. The next iteration of the IDP will be published after the CIL consultation is complete, and then we will be able to establish the estimates of funding and shortfall at that time.

Hart Makes Excuses Question 4:

Which sports facilities will now not get delivered because of the transfer from reserves to cover the hole in the Leisure Centre budget?

Answer: The money that is being used to subsidise EA is coming from a revenue fund not S106 money or Capital Reserves, so there will be no impact on future provision leisure facilities or services.

Supplementary: Something must be losing money somewhere. If you making unplanned use of reserves on the leisure centre, what would that money have been spent on?

Supplementary Answer: The Council has reserves earmarked for specific purposes and a general reserve built
up that balances the ebbs and flows of our revenue streams. It is built up in good years to deal with difficult years, it is basically a ‘balancing reserve’. The last two years have been especially challenging because of the pandemic, so it has been a natural decision to use some of the reserves put away for a ‘rainy day’ for a couple of ‘rainy years’ and we would seek to add to the reserves again in good years. The money is there for that purpose. No one has lost out; it is simply good financial management.


What's Happening to Hart Leisure Centres

What’s Happening to Hart Leisure Centres?

What's Happening to Hart Leisure Centres

What’s Happening to Hart Leisure Centres

Happy New Year everyone. New Year, same old story. They budgeted record income from the Leisure Centres, despite the difficulties arising from Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, the Leisure Centre budget is under considerable pressure this year. They appear to have received nothing so far. Consequently, they are transferring cash from earmarked reserves to cover the shortfall. They reserves they are using were supposed to be used for sports facilities.

It is understandable that revenue is down. However, why did they budget for record income because it was obvious there would be difficulties?

Let’s go through the detail.

Hart Leisure Centres Record Income Budget

All versions of the budget book show the same income budget.

Hart Leisure Centre Budget

Hart Leisure Centres Budget

As can be seen, the actual and budgeted income by year is:

  • FY18/19: £828K actual
  • FY19/20: £1,268K actual
  • FY20/21: £633K budget
  • FY21/22: £1,407K budget (record budget)

They decided it would be a good idea to plan for record income for FY21/22 despite the country being in lockdown at the time they set the budget. There was a large £399K overspend in Leisure in FY20/21 which should have given some indication of the difficulties facing them.

Leisure Centre Budget Shortfall

The recent Q2 Monitoring Report shows a £700K deficit year to date. Assuming the budget was apportioned equally across the year, they expected approximately £700K income in the first half of the year and have received nothing. That’s quite a spectacular budget failure.

Hart Leisure Centre £700K overspend

Leisure Centre £700K overspend

Reserve Transfer

To cover the shortfall, they are planning to transfer money from earmarked reserves. The papers surrounding this have been kept secret, but the minutes of the Cabinet meeting give us a hint of what is happening.

Hart Leisure Centres Bailed Out from Reserves

Hart Leisure Centres Bailed Out from Reserves

The minutes say they will release reserves earmarked for sports facilities. The trouble is, it is difficult to see where these reserves for Sports Facilities are held. The draft accounts for last year give an analysis of the earmarked reserves in Note 5.11.1.

Hart Council Earmarked Reserves

Hart Council Earmarked Reserves

We can find no explicit mention of reserves earmarked for Sports Facilities. They must be somehow buried in the £2.383m Corporate Services reserve.


Hart Changes the Budget Yet Again

Tales of the Unexpected - Hart changes the budget yet again

Tales of the Unexpected – Hart changes the budget yet again

Despite the intense scrutiny being applied to Hart’s budget processes, they have published yet another version of the FY21/22 budget. This latest adjustment comes with the draft Q2 monitoring report published in papers due to be examined by Overview and Scrutiny next week. There’s more twists and turns in the budget than Tales of the Unexpected.

The image below compares the budget published in the draft Q1 monitoring report to the latest version.

Hart Changes the Budget Throughout FY21-22 between Q1 and Q2 Monitoring Reports FY21-22

Hart Changes the Budget between Q1 and Q2 Monitoring Reports FY21-22

The headline total of £10,794K has not changed. However, they have apparently transferred £694K from Technical and Environmental Services to Corporate. No explanation is given for this change. As we understand it, the Constitution demands that changes larger than £50K are approved by full Council.

History of Hart Budget Changes

This is not the first time Hart has changed the budget this year. Below is our tracking of how the budget has changed since February.

Hart Changes the Budget Throughout FY21-22

Hart Changes the Budget Throughout FY21-22

At Council in July. we asked about the changes between the draft and final budgets. We also covered the budget changes here. We were told that the changes were technical in nature relating to grants from Government, SANG funding and depreciation. It is beyond ridiculous that the budget keeps changing between monitoring reports. How on earth do they keep track of it? How do the managers know what they are working to?

Hart Changes the Budget from Deficit to Balanced

In addition, they have airbrushed the deficit budget from history be claiming the original budget, set in February, was balanced.

FY21-22 Alleged Balanced Budget

FY21-22 Alleged Balanced Budget

But this contradicts what they said about it in February. Then they acknowledged they were budgeting for a £381K deficit.

Hart Council budget deficits 2021/22 and 2022/23

Hart Council budget deficits 2021/22 and 2022/23

Budget Bad News

The main bad news buried in the report is that Hart has incurred a £700K deficit so far on the Leisure contract.

Hart Leisure Centre £700K overspend

Hart Leisure Centre £700K overspend

Budget Good News

There is some good news in the report. They are now forecasting a deficit of £612K. This is better than the £776K forecast in Q1. Although worse than the budgeted deficit of £381K. However, the deficit may reduce to £240k if their claim for compensation for loss of fee and charges income is successful.

Hart Q2 Monitoring FY21-22 £612K deficit

Hart Q2 Monitoring FY21-22 £612K deficit


5-Year Land Supply Blows Shapley Heath Out of the Water

A new announcement was made at Council on Thursday, in response to one of our questions. They announced that the new 5-year land supply shows Hart has over 10 years of land supply. Not only that, the Housing Delivery Test will be met up to around 2028.  Their whole justification for pursuing Shapley Heath in the first place was as an “insurance policy”.

Unfortunately, we were unable to be at the meeting, even remotely. However, the Chairman agreed to read out our questions for us. The announcement and questions are shown below, with short video clips of the answers. They covered:

  1. 5-Year land supply announcement
  2. A request for an outline of the activities and timescales for the Local Plan review
  3. Demanding a specific date for the publication of the Shapley Heath survey
  4. Asking for the cost savings arising from stopping the Shapley Heath project early
  5. A question about the costs of having two joint-CEOs, compared to other councils that share CEOs and senior management teams.

There’s another clip of Councillor Kinnell flouncing out of the meeting after being asked some straightforward questions about the Dog Warden service.

5-Year Land Supply Blows Shapley Heath Out of the Water

Here is the announcement about the 5-year land supply:

The key points to note are that the Housing Delivery Test will be met until at least 2028 and Hart has 10 years of land supply.  The full document can be found here.

Q1: Local Plan Review Activities and Timelines

Hart needs a revised Local Plan in place by five years from adoption, which is April 2025. Various steps will need to be completed such as Examination and various consultations. The Council will also need to find sites to meet the housing delivery test and make adjustments resulting from new household projections due to be published in 2023. The Inspector also said that “appropriate and proportionate area/site assessments [and] viability testing would need to be done in an impartial manner”. Can you sketch out the broad activities and timelines required to meet the April 2025 deadline?

The answer is shown in the video below.

We think the Council has got its head in the sand, because the National Planning Policy Guidance is fairly clear that Local Plans need to be reviewed every five years. If there is any ambiguity, surely it would be prudent to plan for the worst case scenario. We are reminded of the aphorism, failure to plan is to plan to fail.

Local Plan Review Guidance

Local Plan Review Guidance: land Supply Blows Shapley Heath out of the Water

Q2: Shapley Heath Survey Results

At the September Council meeting we were promised that the Shapley Heath survey results were going to be published “in full” (subject to GDPR check) “shortly”. Most reasonable people would have expected “shortly” to mean within a couple of weeks. They are still being kept secret, with a vague commitment to publish sometime in the New Year. Can you give a precise deadline for when these important results will be made available to the taxpayers of Hart who paid for the survey?

The answer is shown in the video below:

We can now expect the survey to be published on 13 December. However, they leave the door open to later publication if they have not received other surveys. However, there are no other surveys, just baseline studies many of which have been completed for some time.

Q3: Financial Benefits of Terminating Shapley Heath

Back in September we were promised a “a business case for the cost benefit analysis of starting to commence the preparation for the next local plan review”. Subsequent papers have been notable because they contained no costs and no benefits of stopping Shapley Heath and changing course. Are we to assume that all of the FY21/22 budget for Shapley Heath has been spent already, despite the project being terminated early, and so no savings will be made, or is this just another example of weak financial controls?

The answer is shown in the video below.

It seems that Councillor Radley thinks our question is disingenuous, because there are no examples of weak financial controls.  First, he says that the full year outturn is going to be £135K against a budget (after the £130K Government grant) of £149K. It seems odd that they have spent most of the budget in just over half the year. Even odder that they are continuing to spend money on a project that’s been stopped.

There are many other examples of weak financial controls. First, they spent £90K against a £50k budget for New Settlement in FY18/19 and £283K against a zero budget in FY20/21. Second, they lost over £1m in relation to the Waste Contract and finally, even the S151 officer said that they needed to “make sure that our financial controls are fully, fully embedded” in the organisation.  Why do they need to do that if the controls are already solid?

Q4: Why Two CEOs?

As you know, Hart is facing a significant structural budget deficit for the foreseeable future. The Level 1 and Level 2 savings identified so far do not fill the financial black hole. Nearby East Hampshire and Havant councils get along fine with just one CEO and senior management team shared between them. Yet Hart, one of the smallest local authorities in the country, has two CEOs. What actions are you taking to ensure this shameful waste of taxpayers’ money does not continue?

The answer is shown in the video below:

At least the Councillor Neighbour has moved on from insisting the budget is balanced. But he seems to have his head in the sand about the costs of Hart’s senior leadership. We covered leadership costs here, where we showed that Hart’s leadership team cost over £540K per annum, whereas the combined team for Havant and East Hampshire is £333K. His comparison of staff paid over £50K is likely distorted by different levels of outsourcing.

Councillor Neighbour challenged our claim that Hart was one of the smallest local authorities. He said there were 64 authorities smaller than Hart. There’s 333 local authorities in England. This puts Hart into the smallest quintile of authorities. This means that 80% of local authorities are larger than Hart; we think that makes Hart one of the smallest.

Councillor Kinnell Flounces Out

We could not leave out the scene of Councillor Sara Kinnell flouncing out of the meeting after fielding a fairly innocuous question about dog wardens.

This isn’t the first time we have seen dramatic behaviour from Councillor Kinnell. If she can’t cope with fairly innocuous questions, then it might be better for her health if she reconsiders her position as a Cabinet member.


Hart Council Out Of Control

Hart Council Out of Control

Hart Council Out of Control

There’s a disturbing trend in Hart Council. Deadlines are being missed. Long standing meetings are being postponed. The finances are still not under control. These things all point to a Council that is out of control.  In summary:

  • Audit Committee Postponed
  • Medium Term finances still in deficit, despite savings being identified
  • Missing 5-year Land Supply
  • CIL proposal based on unpublished Infrastructure Plan
  • No progress on elements of the Local Development Scheme
  • Shapley Heath Deliverables Remain unpublished

Let’s look at the detail.

Audit Committee Postponed

An Audit Committee meeting was supposed to take place this week, but it has been postponed. This meeting was an important one; the purpose was to receive the audit letter and auditor’s report.

Hart Council Out of Control Audit Committee Postponed

Hart Council Out of Control Audit Committee Postponed

Medium Term finances still in deficit

The Council has been working to identify savings to close the black hole at the heart of their finances.  Some proposals were presented to O&S last week. However, the savings identified do not eliminate the deficit.

Hart Council Out of Control Medium Term Finances still in deficit

Hart Council Out of Control Medium Term Finances still in deficit

Hart Council Out of Control: Missing 5-year land supply

At O&S on 21 September, we were assured that the updated 5-year land supply was on track for delivery by the end of September. However, at last week’s O&S this had been pushed back to Christmas. It is very strange for something that was on track to be delivered within 9 days should suddenly suffer a three month delay. This is indicative of poor internal management and control.

5 year land supply on track end of September

5 year land supply on track end of September

5 year land supply pushed back to Christmas

5 year land supply pushed back to Christmas

CIL paper based on unpublished Infrastructure Delivery Plan

At last week’s O&S they discussed a proposed CIL charging schedule. The funding gap that the CIL is supposed to help close was based on an as yet unpublished Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP). This identifies a funding gap of £57.9m.

Hart Council Infrastructure Funding Gap of £58m

Hart Council Infrastructure Funding Gap of £58m

However, the latest published IDP came out around the time of the Local Plan. This showed a funding gap of £72.3m, but this did not include Social and Extra Care nor Countryside schemes. In fact many of the items on the IDP were un-costed and have no funding, to the real gap was even wider.

Hart Council Infrastructure Funding Gap of £72m

Hart Council Infrastructure Funding Gap of £72m

We should be able to scrutinise the new paper to see how the gap has miraculously fallen by ~£14m and whether the figures are realistic.

No Progress on Local Development Scheme

Back in 2019, the Council produced a Local Development Scheme. This sets out the timelines for delivery of all elements of the Local Plan and other development documents.

A DPD for Traveller sites was supposed to have been submitted to Government in June of this year.  Nothing has happened. There was supposed to be a Development Management DPD consultation in June of this year. Nothing has happened. Instead they carried out the survey about the totally unnecessary Shapley Heath project.

Local Development Scheme Deadlines Missed

Local Development Scheme Deadlines Missed

The simply cannot keep wasting time effort and our money on vanity project while they fail to produce key documents that are required.

Shapley Heath survey and baseline studies not yet published

Of course, the results of the Shapley Heath survey and Baseline Studies still haven’t been published. This is despite Councillor Cockarill promising that they would be published “very shortly” at the last Council meeting on 30th September. indeed he noted that if they hadn’t paused the project, the results would have been published to the Opportunity Board in September.

Some of the Baseline Studies were due to be published to the Opportunity Board originally scheduled for July 2021. They still haven’t been published. The current status is ambiguous, with some statements saying they will be “published promptly” and others saying we need to wait until the New Year.

Hart Council Out of Control

In addition, of course our green waste has not been collected for weeks on end. Overall, this paints an alarming picture of failure, obfuscation and secrecy. This cannot be allowed to continue.


Shapley Heath Paused – Hart Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

We have good news. At Cabinet on Thursday the Cabinet agreed to create a business case to review the Local Plan. An immediate consequence of this is that all work on the Shapley Heath Project will be paused. We should view this as minor victory as it is almost certain they will retain Shapley Heath as an option in the Local Plan review.

The announcement was confirmed on Facebook by the Council’s official account:

Shapley Heath Paused

Garden Community Project Paused

James Radley Announcement

It is clear that the announcement caused them some distress because Councillor Radley’s statement was virtually unintelligible. It included the words:

We should look to generate a business case for the cost benefit analysis of starting to commence the preparation for the next local plan review. A new settlement can continue to be investigated along with other options such as urban intensification as part of the LP.
If the Government sticks to its prior guidance on Planning Reform, a review of the Local Plan will be a mandatory requirement. So it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Local Plan review will go ahead.
It was left to Councillor Cockarill at the meeting to make clear that the consequence of this decision will be to pause the existing Shapley Heath project. The full discussion at Cabinet can be seen on the video below:

Shapley Heath Paused: Campaign Impact

It is always difficult to know exactly what impact our campaign has on the Council. However, we will claim some credit for this outbreak of common sense.

We called for a review of the Local Plan back in January. It’s taken 8 months, but finally they have taken some notice.

We have of course highlighted the level of spending on Shapley Heath on many occasions recently.



Hart Financial Black Hole Gets Bigger

There’s good news, bad news and some downright ugly news in the latest Medium Term Financial Strategy reported to Overview and Scrutiny. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Hart Financial Black Hole Gets Bigger - Updated Medium Term Financial Strategy

Hart Financial Black Hole Gets Bigger – Updated Medium Term Financial Strategy

The projected deficits have risen since last reported in July in the Statement of Accounts. The deficit for FY22/23 has risen from £1,175K to £1,214K. In FY23/24 the deficit is now projected at £1,569K, up from £1,413K.

Black Hole at the Heart of Hart's Finances

Hart Council MTFS Statement of Accounts July 2021

Analysis of the differences shows some worrying trends.

Hart Financial Black Hole Gets Bigger MTFS Comparison

Hart MTFS Comparison

Commercial income for each of those years has grown by over £700K. In addition, they are also forecasting higher New Homes Bonus receipts and more grants.  Income from Council Tax and Business Rates is virtually unchanged. However, the extra income is more than offset by ballooning costs.

Hart Financial Black Hole: Good News

The good news is that the Council are starting to get to grips with the problem and have started to identify savings. So far, they have identified two levels of saving. Level 1 is apparently relatively easy, and if they manage to implement all of their ideas they will save £335K per year. However, we don’t think spending saved grant money or capitalising expenditure are real savings.

Level One Savings

Level One Savings

If they manage to implement the Level 2 savings, they would achieve a further £467K of savings each year.

Level Two Savings

Level Two Savings

This is a welcome first step. However, even if they implement all of the identified savings, they total up to only £802K. This is much less than the deficits in each year. So, there’s still a very long way to go to balance the budget.

Hart Financial Black Hole: Ugly News

The ugly news is that cutting the disastrous Shapley Heath project doesn’t even feature as a potential saving. That’s right, the Council finances are sinking into the abyss, but they still plan to carry on squandering more and more of our money on a totally unnecessary project.

The other ugly news is that they are now projecting a surplus for this financial year of £117K. If that sounds odd, read on. On the face of it, this is a big improvement on the £381K deficit assumed in the original budget. The surplus comes because they are now going to receive extra commercial income from the office block they recently purchased in Basingstoke. This is weird because the projection conveniently ignores the £776K adverse variance they (almost) reported in the Full Year forecast paper presented to the same meeting. They are dressing up a deteriorating deficit as a surplus. It seems they can show only good news in the MTFS and totally ignore the bad news. Another ugly, shambolic financial report.


Hart Budget Gaslighting Continues

Hart Budget Gaslighting

Hart Budget Gaslighting

The confusing reporting of Hart’s FY21/22 budget continues. The continued obfuscation, coupled with an insistence that nothing has changed can only be described as gaslighting. Papers covering the outturn for the first quarter of FY21/22 have recently been considered by Overview and Scrutiny.

The first thing that jumps out of the page is the inaccurate statement 4.2 which says, “The forecast position for expenditure as of 30th June 2021 was a variance to Budget of £2.7m”. The actuals for Q1 do show a favourable variance of £2.7m. However, the forecast full year outturn is an unfavourable variance of £776K, a fact not mentioned in the entire report.

You have to work hard to find that variance. In the table showing the comparison between budget and actual, they have omitted the total line. So, you have to add it up yourself. Below is the table as presented in the paper, together with our analysis that includes a total line. Most of the adverse variance is due to loss of income in the Leisure contract. The £470K positive variance in Community Services is unexplained. The smaller adverse variances in the other service areas are also unexplained.

Overview and Scrutiny Aug 21 Table 1.1

Overview and Scrutiny Aug 21 Table 1.1

Hart Budget Gaslighting: Q1 Full Year Forecast

Hart Budget Gaslighting: Q1 Full Year Forecast

The next thing that jumps out they have chosen to present the “Original” budget in a new way. This makes it impossible to compare it to prior versions like-for like. A new line called “Accounting Treatment”, amounting to over £1.5m has miraculously appeared. This is extra income, presumably from reserves, to offset the additional spending that was not included in the original version of the budget. Here are the changes in graphical form.

Hart Budget Gaslighting: FY21-22 Budget Changes Since February 2021

Hart Budget Gaslighting: FY21-22 Budget Changes Since February 2021

We’re Not Changing the Budget

However, Councillor James “Rhetoric” Radley insisted that nothing had changed in the budget:

However, he admitted at July questions that changes have been made to account for depreciation, SANG spending and additional Government grants. He failed to mention that the Waste Client Team net income budget has fallen £52K and the budgets for Corporate Communications (+£19.5K) and Register of Electors (+£17K) have higher spending even though they are not affected his explanation.

Hart Budget Gaslighting: Accounting Treatment

When you delve into the depths of “Accounting Treatment”, things get even murkier. The first item of note is that £667K of income from interest on investments and property rental income has been moved “above the line”.  Councillor Radley declared this in the actuals for FY18/19 and 19/20, but somehow forgot to disclose it for the current year.

Changes to HAZFEN

Changes to HAZFEN: Commercial Income

CCH Rhetoric Awards Q1 Written Answer

CCH Rhetoric Awards Q1 Written Answer

Then, there’s an extra £1m transferred from reserves, presumably to cover SANG expenditure. Plus nearly £0.5m more to cover depreciation charges. In addition, there’s a previously undisclosed £1m for pension contributions.

Changes to Accounting Treatment Items Pensions and Reserves

Changes to Accounting Treatment Items Pensions and Reserves

Of course, the total employment costs have changed in both directions across the different version so the budget too.

Hart Budget Gaslighting Employment Cost Changes

Hart Budget Gaslighting Employment Cost Changes

If they look like changes to the budget and smell like changes to the budget, they probably are changes to the budget. To forcefully deny that anything has changed is simply gaslighting the public.




Audit Committee Refuses Shapley Heath Audit

Hart’s Audit Committee has refused to add Shapley Heath to its Internal Audit Schedule. There was a terse exchange between Councillor Tim Southern and Chair of the Audit Committee, Chris Axam. Councillor Southern requested that the project be added to the audit schedule because the project was taking up a lot of time and effort and costing a lot of money. In addition, the project was controlled by very few people within Hart District Council.

In a rambling response, Councillor Axam refused, saying:

I can understand that people might want to look at it in terms of in depth, I don’t think anyone should be worried about that but I am not quite sure you can build it into an audit plan in the way you would normally audit most other things. I just don’t think it, at this stage I don’t think at this stage it lends itself so easily to that…

Unless I am being naive here, everybody who is working on Shapley Heath knows that they have a budget and what it is and they are engaging in going through a process.

A video of the full exchange is shown below:

Yes, Mr Axam, we think you are being very naive. You must have overlooked the fact that four different budgets were set last financial year and the variance reporting was laughable. You must have also missed that they transferred £283K to fund spending against an overall zero budget last year. In FY18/19 they spent £90K against a (revised from zero) budget of £50K. They have also set two different budgets so far this year. If this doesn’t tell you there’s something to be looked at, we don’t know what will.

This is not the response we would have hoped for from an independent minded, intellectually curious chair of the Audit Committee.

Weak Financial Controls

Later in the meeting, the S151 officer said:

We really need to make sure that our financial controls are fully, fully embedded within the organisation at all levels, so that everyone knows exactly where to look to find the financial regulations written in a way they understand.

In other words, there’s currently a significant weakness in financial controls that needs to be addressed.

Shapley Heath Audit Three Wise Monkeys

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Audit Committee didn’t accept the need to audit Shapley Heath. The councillors who are part of the ruling coalition behaved like the three wise monkeys.

  • Councillor Axam (CCH) appears to see nothing, because he admitted in the meeting that he might have “been asleep” at other meetings.
  • Lib Dem Councillor Blewett hears nothing, because he left the meeting during the Shapley Heath exchange.
  • Councillor Davies (CCH) says nothing during the entire exchange about Shapley Heath.

Transcript of Shapley Heath Audit Item

The video of the full meeting can be found on Hart’s Live Streaming YouTube site. Although, be quick because the recordings have a habit of disappearing. The full transcript of the Shapley Heath item can be found below:

Tim Southern

We’re spending a lot of time, effort on the Shapley Heath plan, what audit controls are being put on the team to ensure t is being properly controlled?

Emma Foy

In terms of…We’ve got internal controls across the organisation around budget management, budget monitoring, virement, budget approvals and council standing orders and financial regulation. We don’t have Shapley heath as a specific element within our audit plan this year. That maybe revisited at another time or in the future. But Shapley Heath like any other department or project in the Council is subject to the same element of budget monitoring and approval than than any other.

Tim Southern

We are actually in the Council putting in an enormous amount of time and effort into it. Do you not think that we should really be controlling this and auditing it properly and making sure that the funds are actually being managed properly? Because there are big question marks about Shapley Heath and I really do think it should be one of the things you should be auditing in the Planning Performance Plan.

Emma Foy

So we can take…At the moment Shapley Heath is managed not by that Place Team but separately by the Joint Chief Executives. So it doesn’t form part of the Planning Department. I completely acknowledge that it’s all part…

Tim Southern

That sounds like good reason to audit it.

Chris Axam

If I can just come in for one second. I can understand your concerns Tim, I think they are valid in the sense that obviously money which we are spending as taxpayers we need to make sure that it’s being spent wisely. However, I am not quite sure I am not quite sure how you would audit something like Shapley Heath. Other than to say, as I understand it that the funds which have been allocated, the £500K which the Council has committed over a period of three years is not, you know exceeded in the sense that we look to spend one third of it and as the project goes along.

But I am not sure exactly how you could audit much more. Because much of it is I think is exploratory in terms of looking. It’s engaging with obviously outside people and running the project itself. I can understand that people might want to look at it in terms of in depth, I don’t think anyone should be worried about that but I am not quite sure you can build it into an audit plan in the way you would normally audit most other things. I just don’t think it, at this stage I don’t think at this stage it lends itself so easily to that. I think the more information you get about it the better. But I think there’s nothing to, you know, be kept away from people but the money needs to be properly spent I agree with you there.

Tim Southern

I think perhaps we should consider it into the future because it is a major investment of this organisation at the moment and I think that we should make sure that the money is being set under control. Under control. I wasn’t worried about the spending of the money provided it is controlled and that’s the audit function.

Chris Axam

Yeah, but I can’t you know. Unless I am being naive here, everybody who is working on Shapley Heath knows that they have a budget and what it is and they are engaging in going through a process. And they would have to go and come back obviously to Full Council I think, we certainly to Cabinet to say “Look, we’re progressing with this, it’s gone quicker and faster and better than we thought and we can get other things moving but we need more funds”. I think they would do that. I think that would be a normal, from what I understand how this council works, I would expect that to be done.

So, in terms of audit processes, I’m not sure it’s entirely valid. I understand your concerns as a Councillor in Shapley Heath and obviously how Shapley Heath is presented to the public .I can understand all of that.

Tim Southern

I think we’ve got to be very careful about a very small number of people in the organisation are actually in control of this. And it worries me that there is no external control of it.

Chris Axam

I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that, in the sense of external control. I mean we have the joint Chief Executive and I think the two people who I think are allocated to the Shapley Heath project. Three people alright. Ok it is a small number. It is obviously a resource hungry facility because at the moment all Shapley Heath is is an exploratory exercise to see whether it has a possibility of going forward. At this stage it’s no more than that.

Tim Southern

All I can say is, that I am glad I have alerted it then.



CCH Rhetoric Awards 2021

We asked a series of questions about Hart’s finances in general and Shapley Heath in particular at the Council meeting held on 29 July. Normally, we would report on the answers to these questions within a few days of the meeting. We are still waiting for some of the written answers to be provided, so we thought we should provide an update.

Regular readers may recall that CCH’s leader famously described his untrue statements about Shapley Heath in a letter to our MP Ranil Jayawardena as “rhetoric”. Unfortunately, the answers to our questions are riddled with inaccuracies and inconsistencies. It seems the CCH Rhetoric Machine has been fired up again. So, we have instituted the satirical CCH Rhetoric Awards. Read on to find out which answers we awarded the prestigious Golden Cowpat.

CCH Rhetoric Awards – Summary

  • Q1 Changes to Actuals for prior years: Wooden spoon for falling at the last hurdle after first giving a convincing answer.
  • Q2 Big Sings in the Budget: Partially correct answer, but a Silver Cowpat for the answer clearly not being the whole truth.
  • Q3 Budget does not add up: Partially correct answer, but a Silver Cowpat for the answer clearly not being the whole truth.
  • Q3 Supp – Waste Contract: Temporary Silver Cowpat award, but we reserve the right to upgrade to a Golden Cowpat if the external consultants don’t find the missing £1.1m.
  • Q4 Shapley Heath Budgets: Coveted Golden Cowpat for the level of rhetoric.
  • Q4 Supp Shapley Heath Spending: The “Not Me Guv” Sloping Shoulder Award and the Artful Dodger Prize for avoiding the question.
  • Q5 Shapley Heath Baseline Studies: Special Sword of Truth award for this answer that revealed developers are funding the independent studies.
  • Q6 £283K Transfer from Reserves: Another Golden Cowpat and the Greensill Award for Financial Transparency
  • Q6 Supp How much of £500K Shapley Heath Reserves remain: Awarded the special Paul Daniels “Not a Lot” Award for not providing an answer at all. [Update] Award now rescinded because answer now provided [/Update]
  • Q7 Shapley Heath Spending FY20/21: Another Golden Cowpat and the Enron Lifetime Achievement Award for Accounting Excellence.
  • Q7 Supp Shapley Heath Overspend: Lord Lucan Award for the missing answer. [Update] Award now rescinded because answer now provided. Golden Cowpat awarded instead [/Update]

Let’s go through the detailed questions and answers one by one.  The original question (and supplementaries) are shown in bold black. The answers are shown in blue and our commentary on the answers are shown in red.

Question 1: Changes in Actuals for Prior Years

Q1. Why have the actuals for FY18/19 and FY19/20 changed between the publication of the draft budget in February 2021 and the final budget published this month [Note the actuals in the draft didn’t match the Final V2 budget either]? Is there any impact on the published statutory accounts for those years?

Hart Finances Out of Control - Changes to Actuals

Hart Finances Out of Control – Changes to Actuals

A1. Before I answer any of the detail I would just like to let everyone know that we will be publishing these questions and answers, because the questions relate to tables and data whilst I will provide verbal responses I think the response will be most understandable in written format.

In the first table you refer to i.e. the draft budget published February 2021, interest on investments for 2018/19 and 2019/20 was excluded from the summary by service and instead included as part of below the line adjustments.  For transparency and accountability this was placed above the line for reporting in the latest version of the budget book to ensure that it forms part of the detailed monthly budget monitoring process.

This has no affect on the statutory accounts which reports income and expenditure in a different format according to the CIPFA SORP.

The tables below shows the detail of these line adjustments.

CCH Rhetoric Awards Q1 Written Answer

CCH Rhetoric Awards Q1 Written Answer

Our Response: On the face of it, the verbal answer given at the meeting was a reasonable explanation. However, it has been spoiled somewhat by the tables provided in the written answer which don’t match the figures for FY19/20 in the original draft budget and of course, the end balance is not zero after accounting adjustments.  This opens up even more questions about control over the budgets. We shall award this answer the Wooden Spoon for falling at the last hurdle.

Question 2: Big Swings in Budget between Service Areas

Q2. There are big differences between the budgets agreed for the Service Areas in March and final budget published this month. What governance processes were used and who authorised such massive swings in the budget and are they in accordance with the constitutional budget procedures 3 and 5 as well as financial regulations FR10 and FR12 which limit changes unless approved by full council?

Hart Finances Out of Control - Big changes between draft and final budget

Hart Finances Out of Control – Big changes between draft and final budget

A2. There is a net difference between the draft budget and final budget of £37K

This is due to changes in the assumptions in the value of recycling credits, grants and depreciation.

The draft budget, due to its timing made assumptions based on information known at that time. As final numbers became available, they were incorporated into the Final Budget.

In summary the following updates were made.

    • Grants – estimated numbers were used at the time of the Draft Budget. As final details were received these were incorporated into the final budget and categorised into the correct Service Area.
    • SANG allocation in Tech & Environmental – S106 reserves were released which fund the SANG cost centres. This allocation was not included in the Draft Budget.
    • Depreciation: Final asset valuation reports were not available at the time of the draft budget these numbers were updated for the final budget.
CCH Rhetoric Awards: Q2 Written Answer

Q2 Written Answer

Our Response. First, the swing of £37K overall is larger than the £10K that needs to be signed off by Cabinet. Moreover, the rest of the explanation given does not hold water. Swings of >£10K are apparent in some services. For example, the Waste Client Team net income budget has fallen £52K, more than the limit that needs to be signed off by Full Council. The budgets for Corporate Communications (+£19.5K) and Register of Electors (+£17K) have higher spending even though they are not affected by the explanation given. In effect, a different budget is now in operation to that which was signed off by Council.

This is another example of poor budgeting and inadequate oversight and governance. We give this a Silver Cowpat award. The answer had some merit, but is clearly not the whole truth.

Waste Client Team Budget Changes

Waste Client Team Budget Changes

Other Budget Changes

Other Budget Changes

Question 3: Budget Does Not Add Up

Q3. In the recently published final budget for FY21/22, the sum of the spending in the service areas for GL Codes 10000 – Basic Salary, 44069 – Homelessness and 90012 – Other Government Grants is not equal to the total for those GL Codes in the “Subjective” summary. In short, the budget apparently does not add up. It appears as though HANEED is missing from the service areas. What steps are being taken to make the budget internally consistent and what impact will correcting the errors have on the projected deficit?

Hart Finances Out of Control - Budget Does Not Add Up

Hart Finances Out of Control – Budget Does Not Add Up

A2: The HANEED cost centre detail page was missing from the scanned copy of the paper copy of the Draft budget book. The budgetary numbers were not missing from the overall numbers. This is a matter of presentation.

Additional checks will be incorporated into the process for future publications.

Our Response. Again, this is not a complete answer. First, it refers to the draft budget published in February. However, despite being pointed out by email at the time to all Councillors, the JCX’s and the S151 Officer, the draft budget was passed with the error. However, the same error persisted into the Final budget published in early July. The question related to the Final budget. This was corrected when it was drawn to the attention of officers. However, the error cannot simply be a “slip of the scanner”.

First, it seems unlikely that the scanner would miss exactly the same page five months apart. Secondly, other changes were made between the Final and Final V2 budgets. The total employee costs decreased £50K between Draft and Final, yet increased £211K between Final and Final V2. This is another example of the Council now working to a different budget to the one signed off in February. We give this answer another Silver Cowpat award. The answer had some merit, but is clearly not the whole truth.

CCH Rhetoric Awards Employment Cost Changes

CCH Rhetoric Awards Employment Cost Changes

Q3 Supplementary – Waste Contract

Q3 Supp: Have the ever-changing budgets and persistent errors impacted on the Waste Contract, where over one million pounds appears to have been lost down the back of the sofa?

A3 Supp: I can reassure you that that is not the case. Following the reconciliation of costs of the waste contract as part of the handover of the client management to Basingstoke costs of £1.1 million remained under a rechargeable cost code. It was agreed with Basingstoke that we would bring in independent specialists to review these costs, how they should be accounted for, and whether they should be rebilled. This work has started, and early indications are that this dates back to 2018 and investigations are continuing. This is an accountancy artifact which relates to the council cross charging. There is every expectation that these charges balance out with other charging which has flowed in the other direction. The net affect being zero. This is simply an accounting artifact.

Our Response. If this missing money is just an “accounting artifact” with a “net effect of zero”, why is it recorded as an unfavourable variance in papers to Overview and Scrutiny and to Cabinet? Both papers presented by none other than Councillor James Radley. The same overall variance has made its way into the statutory accounts due to be audited shortly. If the problem dates back to 2018, doesn’t this call into question the accuracy of the accounts from earlier years?

We give this a Silver Cowpat award, because there is an outside chance the external consultants find the money. But we reserve the right to upgrade to the coveted gold award.

Hart Loses £1m down the back of the sofa

HAWBDC Basingstoke Waste Contract £1.121m uninvoiced at year end reported June 2021

Hart Loses £1m down the back of the sofa

HAWBDC Basingstoke Waste Contract £1.088m overspend reported Jul 2021

CCH Rhetoric Awards Question 4: Shapley Heath Budgets

Q4. The recently released final budget for FY21/22 shows that the budget for HASETT – New Settlement in FY20/21 was zero. It consisted of ~£68K for employee costs and car allowances, offset by a somewhat implausible identical receipt from GL Code 44047 – Consultants Projects. In common with the other service areas, no overheads were allocated. Yet, the transparency report shows spending of £63.7K on consultants (not money received from) in “New Settlement” for FY20/21. What governance processes were used to authorise such a large spend against an overall zero budget, apparently in contravention of FR10 in the constitution?

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game: New Settlement Transparency Report FY20-21

Shapley Heath New Settlement Transparency Report FY20-21

A4: The New Settlement published budget for 20/21 did not reflect the release of reserves agreed by Cabinet in February 2020.

These reserves were drawn down at the end of the year on assumption of agreement made by full council on the 6 February 2020 and approved by Cabinet.

Our Response. We have scoured the document referred to. The only references we can find to Shapley Heath are:

    • It being described as a “pressure” requiring £500K of spending over 3 years
    • £167K of discretionary spending allocated in the FY20/21 budget

We do not believe that setting a budget is the same thing as releasing reserves. In any event, the budget should reflect the spending required, and a release of reserves is not “income”. As Councillor Radley has said himself, moving money from reserves is the equivalent of moving money from your savings account to your current account to cover an overdraft.

Oh, and the Council meeting to approve the budget took place on 27 February 2020, not 6 February. We give this answer the coveted Golden Cowpat for the level of “rhetoric”.

Q4 Supplementary FY21/22 Shapley Heath Spending

Q4 Supp: Hart recently advertised Garden Community contracts with an indicative value of £56K, against a FY21/22 budget of £25K, isn’t it time for some proper forensic accountants to get to the bottom of what’s going wrong with budgeting and financial controls?

Answer A4 Supp [On the Night]. I am not in a position to comment on how Place department operate, but we do maintain that our departments, at the end of the year have balanced their budgets and I am quite convinced they are working within those limits.

Answer A4 Supp [Written Answer]. The Council operates internal controls across the organisation. These include budget monitoring, budget virements and spend approval. The Shapley Heath project is subject to these same budgetary controls as all other projects/activities.

Details of these controls can be found within the published Hart Constitution – Financial Regulations and Contract Standing Orders. Hart Consitution [sic]

Our Response: First, Shapley Heath is a Corporate Services project, one of the areas that Councillor Radley is responsible for. The rest of the answer does not address the question posed. The “Not Me Guv” Sloping Shoulder Award and the Artful Dodger Prize for avoiding the question on this one.

CCH Rhetoric Awards Question 5: Shapley Heath Baseline Studies

Q5: In addition, the Shapley Heath Opportunity Board papers show that four Baseline Studies had reached the status of “Finalised” by 8 March, before the end of the Financial Year. These must have cost money, but do not show on the Transparency Report nor on the Contracts Register. How much was spent on Baseline Studies and Strategy Reports in FY20/21?

Shapley Heath Baseline Studies as of 8 March 2021

Shapley Heath Baseline Studies as of 8 March 2021

A5: The Shapley Heath Opportunity Board Papers clearly state that the Baseline Studies were funded by promoters. No money was spent by the Council on Baseline Studies or Strategic Reports in 2020/21.

Our Response: It does seem more than odd that Councillor Radley should proudly proclaim that none of the £283K transferred from reserves was spent on anything useful for the project. It’s looking like the HDC project team is little more than the PR department for the developers. And we are paying for it. If the Baseline Studies were funded entirely by developers, how can they be relied upon to be impartial? Are HDC really going to base their Shapley Heath strategy on documents funded and sourced from the developers? What ever happened to a council led project? We give this answer a special Sword of Truth award.

Question 6: Governance Arrangements for £283K Transfer from Reserves

Q6: The agenda pack for July Cabinet shows that £283K was transferred from reserves to fund Shapley Heath. How is it possible to spend £283K against a zero budget whilst running a deficit and what governance processes authorised this spend?

Shapley Heath Financial Shell Game £283K Transfer from Reserves

Shapley Heath £283K Transfer from Reserves

A6: Expenditure for Shapley Heath spend was presented to Cabinet on the following dates:

Shapley Heath is funded by Government Grants. Grants have been received over several years. With Cabinet’s consent, grant funding can be transferred to and from an ear-marked reserve between financial years. Members provided the approval for a £283K transfer from reserves at Cabinet on the 3rd July to fund 20/21 expenditure. This paper was subject to scrutiny by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Our Response. We covered the ever changing budget and spending for Shapley Heath here. During the year, the full year budget has fluctuated from £167K originally to £500K in July. It went back down to £68.6K (2 x half-YTD £34.3K budget) in October and then to zero. Spending miraculously fell from £65.5K in July to £47.7K in October. It seems they can set a budget, change it willy-nilly and then seek approval for unbudgeted expenditure after the money has been spent. In addition, Shapley Heath is not solely funded by Government grants – see below.

Oh, and by the way, the Cabinet meeting to approve the £283K transfer from reserves took place on 1 July 2021, not 3 July.  Another Golden Cowpat award for this one and the special Greensill Prize for Financial Transparency.

Q6 Supplementary: £500K Shapley Heath Reserves

Q6 Supp: How much of the £500K set aside in reserves for Shapley Heath remains unspent?

A6: Promised written answer has not yet arrived.

Our Response: Of course, if Shapley Heath really was funded by Government grants, then the answer to this question should be really simple. The whole £500K should be remaining to be spent. But so far he has claimed £167K was transferred from reserves in February 2020 and we know a further £283K has just been approved.

Let’s help Councillor Radley out here. By our calculations, based on Hart’s published figures, there will be ~£98K of the £500K reserves remaining at the end of this financial year. That’s assuming they don’t go over budget this year.  We suspect that they will have virtually nothing to show for this spending other than a botched survey and some biased studies from developers. How much more of our money is going to be wasted on this ridiculous white elephant? We award this the Paul Daniels “Not a Lot” Prize for not even bothering to answer the question.

Shapley Heath Reserves Remaining Update

Shapley Heath Reserves Remaining Update

[Update] Unfortunately, we will have to rescind the Paul Daniels “Not a Lot” Prize because an answer has now been provided. The answer given was:

The answer at the 31st March 2021 is that we held £367,051, no further reserve transfers have occurred since then.

This is consistent with HDC now accounting for the £130K grant received in June 2021 in FY20/21 (within £10K). So, our estimate of ~£98K remaining at the end of FY21/22 is if anything a bit high. Table above updated accordingly. In any event, this answer shows that the answer to the main Q6 is incorrect. It is clear that some of the £500K reserve has been used. Therefore, Shapley Heath is not funded just by Government grants. [/Update]

CCH Rhetoric Awards Question 7: Shapley Heath Spending FY20/21

Q7: How much was spent in total on Shapley Heath Garden Community in FY20/21 and can you provide a detailed breakdown of that spend (and receipts) please?

Answer [On the Night]:  As this question necessitates the provision of tables of data it will be answered as a Freedom of Information request to provide the detail. I can however tell you the totals in summary this evening by way of reading them out.

  • Staff costs £114,261
  • Supplies and Services of £72,102
  • Total controllable costs before recharges is £186,363
  • Income received for 2021 year from MHCLG was £130,000

Answer [FOI]. The FOI answer was substantially the same, with the addition of £7,500 cost recovery.

CCH Rhetoric Awards Q7 FOI Response

CCH Rhetoric Awards Q7 FOI Response

Our Response: We think there is some mistake here. Both responses show the £130K grant obtained from MHCLG as being accounted for in FY20/21.  This is rather odd because:

  • The same £130K also shows as a line item in the Final V2 FY21/22 budget (see image below). Clearly the same money should not be accounted for in two different financial years.
  • The grant was announced on 7 June 2021, and presumably received shortly afterwards. June 2021 is unambiguously part of FY21/22. No other announcement about Government funding has been made since the original grant award of £150K in 2019.
  • The FY20/21 full year outturn report contained an entry showing £283K transferred from reserves to covering “FY2020/21 work on the New Settlement at Shapley Heath” (see image above). It is highly unlikely that such a large transfer would be required if £130K had been received from Government in FY20/21
HASETT - Shapley Heath Final Budget FY21-22

HASETT – Shapley Heath Final Budget FY21-22

We give this answer the coveted Golden Cowpat along with the Enron Lifetime Achievement Award for Accounting Excellence.

Q7 Supplementary: How is it possible to overspend on employment cost budget?

Q7 Supp: From memory, the budget for employment costs was £68K and I think Cllr Radley said it was almost double that. How can we spend more than double [NB: should have said nearly double] the budget?

A7: No written answer has been forthcoming.

Our Response. My memory was right. £66.7K direct employment costs plus £1.4K for car allowances. This one gets the Lord Lucan Award for the missing answer. 

[Update] We will now have to rescind the Lord Lucan award because an answer has been provided.

The budget was set in advance of the year and only included gross salary costs for 20/21 excluding on costs. When on costs were added this increased the requirement for spend.

However, we can now award a new Golden Cowpat for the answer. The £68K budget above clearly includes normal on costs of employers NI, pension contributions and even car allowances. So, the overspend is not explained at all. [/Update]