Sunderland City Council Reserves

MR ALEX A SMITH made this Freedom of Information request to Sunderland City Council

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Dear Sunderland City Council,

The Local Government Association (LGA) advises that some council reserves “restricted by local agreement to fund certain types of expenditure can be reconsidered or released if the council’s future plans and priorities change” (LGA, A councillor’s workbook on local government finance, March, 2018, page 24).

These reserves are sometimes referred to as “controllable” earmarked reserves.

I have four questions.

1. How much does Sunderland City Council currently hold in “controllable” earmarked reserves?

2. In principle - i.e. if deemed necessary by councillors - can Sunderland City Council release/reallocate its “controllable” earmarked reserves and spend them on a once-off basis to support service provision?

3. How much does Sunderland City Council currently hold in “general” reserves?

4. If deemed necessary by councillors, can Sunderland City Council spend its “general” reserves on a one-off basis to support service provision?

Yours faithfully,

MR ALEX A SMITH

Solicitor - Freedom of Information, Sunderland City Council

Re: Your request for information concerning:

Sunderland City Council Reserves

The Council aims to provide available information promptly and in any event within 20 working days, unless, exceptionally, there is a need to consider whether the information is exempt from disclosure.

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Customer Request Number: FOI_3266

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Adam Dodsworth, Sunderland City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Smith,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST

 

Thank you for your information request regarding Sunderland City Council
reserves.

 

Question:         

How much does Sunderland City Council currently hold in “controllable”
earmarked reserves? and

How much does Sunderland City Council currently hold in “general”
reserves?

 

Response:

The Council’s published accounts show that at 1^st April 2020 the Council
held £168.685m in Usable Reserves. 

 

Included within this is £12.000m relating to the Council’s General Fund
reserve as well as £7.982m relating to amounts held on behalf of
maintained schools which the Council cannot utilise for its own purposes.

 

Question:

In principle - i.e. if deemed necessary by councillors - can Sunderland
City Council release/reallocate its “controllable” earmarked reserves and
spend them on a once-off basis to support service provision?

If deemed necessary by councillors, can Sunderland City Council spend its
“general” reserves on a one-off basis to support service provision?

 

Response:

The General Fund Balance represents general resources available to the
Council to act as a contingency to help cushion the impact of unexpected
events or emergencies and, as such, would be the last reserve to be
considered for one-off use.  Any use of this reserve would need to be
replaced.

 

Most of the other usable reserves could, in principle, be used to support
one-off service provision, although there are a few exceptions such as the
Capital Receipts reserve and the Capital Grants Unapplied reserve which
are subject to statutory limitations (for example the Capital Receipts
Reserve can only be used to fund capital expenditure or repay debt),
however, it should be noted that all usable reserves held are earmarked
for specific purposes and redirecting these to one-off service provision
would impact on their intended use. Some reserves are also to be applied
to fund expenditure which the Council is contractually obligated to pay
and therefore would not be able to be released.

 

As part of monitoring the Council’s revenue budget position, Members do
consider service provision budgets alongside the level of reserves and
amend the planned use of reserves throughout the year, as necessary.  The
most recent quarterly revenue budget review report (12^th January 2021)
can be found here:

[1]https://committees.sunderland.gov.uk/com...

 

Reserves are covered in section 4 and Appendix C of this report.

 

I hope this is satisfactory. If, however, you are dissatisfied with our
response to your request for information, you can ask for the decision to
be reviewed in reply to this letter. The review will be removed from the
service area and coordinated by the Council's Information Governance
Officer. A request for review should be directed, by email to
[2][Sunderland City Council request email], or by post or by hand addressed
to; Information Governance Officer, Governance Services, Civic Centre, PO
Box 100, Sunderland, SR2 7DN. You are of course entitled to apply to the
Information Commissioner at any time, although the Commissioner will not
usually investigate until the public authority's internal review procedure
has been concluded.

 

Thanks,

 

Adam Dodsworth
Senior Accountant – Coordination and Technical
Financial Management

Corporate Services
Sunderland City Council

[3]www.sunderland.gov.uk

 

Please note: I am currently working from home on a permanent basis until
further notice. I am available via email or a Teams Call

 

 

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