The POBE 2020 return was issued to councils on 12 February 2020 with a deadline of 25 March 2020. Due to the timing of this return, the vast majority of councils' provisional outturn figures and budget estimates do not take account of potential changes to expenditure or income due to COVID-19.
Four councils included amounts relating to contingency for potential Covid-19 costs within 'Emergency Planning', a subservice within Central Services. This is included in 'All other service expenditure' within this publication.
Councils were asked to record General Revenue Grant (GRG) and Non-Domestic Rates Income (NDRI) figures in line with those detailed in Finance Circular 2/2020. This circular was issued on 10 March 2020 and does not include any impacts on settlement figures relating to Covid-19. This means the GRG and NDRI figures in this publication will differ to final settlement figures, particularly for 2020-21.
The 2019-20 GRG figures include amounts relating to the 2018-19 teacher pay award. Councils were asked to accrue these amounts within their 2018-19 accounts. Where this accrual was made, an adjustment to remove this amount from the GRG provisional outturn figure has been made.
Provisional outturn and budget estimates cannot be compared with final, audited net revenue expenditure figures published within Scottish Local Government Finance Statistics (SLGFS). Figures collected within POBE include Revenue Contributions to Capital (RCC) and treat RFRGs as non-service income, whereas net revenue expenditure figures in SLGFS exclude RCC and treat RFRGs as service income.
When comparing provisional outturn or budget estimates over time, comparisons should be made on a like for like basis. Across years, changes in accounting standards may impact on the categorisation of expenditure which can lead to discontinuity in the data collected between financial years. Where these changes are significant, it will be noted in the commentary. Individual council level figures can also be affected by large, one-off payments in any year, for example Equal Pay back-pay settlement expenditure.
Capital Provisional Outturn and Budget Estimates are published through the Capital POBE publication, available at www.gov.scot/collections/local-government-finance-statistics/#capitalprovisionaloutturnandbudgetestimates(cpobe).
Final, audited local government finance statistics are published in the Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics (SLGFS). The latest SLGFS was published in February 2020 and provided final, audited figures for 2018-19. Previous SLGFS publications are available at www.gov.scot/collections/local-government-finance-statistics/#scottishlocalgovernmentfinancialstatistics.