Agenda item


            The Director of Finance and Resources submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1             The purpose of this report is to present to the Committee the Statement of Accounts of the Council, including the Annual Governance Statement, for the period ending 31st March 2021.


1.2             The Statement of Accounts are an important element of the council’s overall corporate governance framework as they provide assurance to Members and ratepayers on the stewardship of the council’s finances and its financial position.


1.3       The Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31st March 2021, as attached, have been prepared in line with the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom 2020/21 based on International Financial Reporting Standards and the Department for Communities Accounts Direction, Circular LG 08/21 dated 11th March and 24th June 2021.


1.4       I can confirm that the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31st March 2021 has been prepared in the form directed by the Department for Communities and, in my opinion, the Statement of Accounts give a true and fair view of the income and expenditure and cash flows for the financial year and the financial position as at the end of the financial year.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to


                                              i.          approve the Council’s Statement of Accounts and incorporated Annual Governance Statement for the year ended 31 March 2021; and


                                             ii.          agree that this report should not be subject to call-in (as indicated above) because it would cause an unreasonable delay which would be prejudicial to the Council’s and the public’s interests given that the statement of accounts must be published by 30th September 2021.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


            Audit Opinion


3.1       It is the Local government Auditors’ opinion that:


·        the financial statements give a true and fair view, in accordance with relevant legal and statutory requirements and the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom 2020-21, of the financial position of Belfast City Council as at 31 March 2021 and its income and expenditure for the year then ended; and


·        the statement of accounts have been properly prepared in accordance with the Local Government (Accounts and Audit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 and the Department for Communities directions issued thereunder; and


·        the part of the Remuneration Report to be audited has been properly prepared in accordance with the Department for Communities directions made under the Local Government (Accounts and Audit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015; and


·        the information given in the Narrative Report for the financial year ended 31 March 2021 is consistent with the financial statements.




3.2       General Fund


            The credit balance on the General Fund has increased to £54,924,106 (of which £40,929,092 relates to specified reserves).  The movement on the reserves balance is summarised in Table 1 below:


Table 1: Summary of Reserves Position


Opening Balance




In year movement in reserves

£ 26.2m



Closing Balance




Specified Reserves at year end




Balance Available



3.3       Capital Fund            £19,296,139


            The Capital Fund is made up of:


·        Belfast Investment Fund (£1,908,136) -created to support key partnership projects to regenerate Belfast and help lever substantial funds from other sources


·        Local Investment Fund (£1,056,624) to fund smaller local regeneration projects


·        City Centre Investment Fund (£13,408,897) to support the Belfast City Centre Regeneration Investment Plans


·        Social Outcomes Fund (£2,922,482) to support City Centre projects which might not generate a direct financial return but would enhance the overall City Centre offer and support the attraction of investment.


3.4       Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund       £8,000,000


            This fund was created from the Belfast Investment Fund, to support neighbourhood regeneration and tourism projects in local neighbourhoods.


3.5       Leisure Mobilisation Fund       £630,245


            This fund is to support the Leisure Transformation Programme and will cover programme level costs including communications, engagement and procurement costs.


3.6       Capital Receipts Reserve £7,962,458 and Deferred Capital Receipts £342,300


            These are capital receipts which have originated primarily from the sale of assets and which have not yet been used to finance capital expenditure.


3.7       Other Fund Balances and Reserves    £1,091,532


            This relates to the Election Reserve (£379,435) which has been set up to smooth the cost of running council elections, the BWUH Subvention Fund (£436,402) to support national and international organisations in bringing their conferences to Belfast and the BWUH Sinking Fund (£275,695) to support planned maintenance and future capital works at the new exhibition centre.


3.8       Debt


            The overall level of trade debtors had increased this year from £4.1m at 31 March 2020 to £5.2m at 31 March 2021. Whilst, the COVID 19 pandemic had an impact on overall debt levels, the main reason is an increase in public authority debt at year end.  An analysis of trade debtors, inclusive of VAT, for the last two years is shown below:


Table 2: Analysis of Trade Debtors



31 March 2021

31 March 2020

Less than three months



Three to one year



More than one year







3.9       Creditors


            The Department for Communities has set councils a target of paying invoices within 30 days.  During the year, the council paid 51,593 invoices totalling £154,605,481.


            The average time taken to pay creditor invoices was 17 days for the year ended 31 March 2021.  The Council paid 39,959 invoices within 10 days, 48,218 invoices within 30 days, and 3,375 invoices outside of 30 days.  The council endeavours to process invoices as quickly as possible and has an improvement plan to support this process.


3.10      Annual Governance Statement (AGS)


            The Statement of Accounts include Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for the year 2020/21, which has been prepared in line with the Accounts Directive provided by the Department for Communities, NIAO guidance and is consistent with the principles of the CIPFA/SOLACE Framework ‘Delivering Good Governance in Local Government’.   Specifically, the AGS sets out:


·        scope of responsibility of the Council in relation to governance

·        the purpose of the governance framework

·        the governance framework in place

·        review of effectiveness of the governance framework

·        significant governance issues to be disclosed.


3.11      The AGS is approved by the Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources, the Chief Executive and the Director of Finance and Resources. It is subject to review by the LGA (NIAO) as part of their annual audit.


3.12      Financial and Resource Implications




3.13      Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment




            The Committee adopted the recommendations.


Supporting documents: