SELLING assets, concerns over schools funding deficit and a potential council tax rise.

BCP Council has provided a key update in their attempts to provide a balanced budget for next year – but there’s still a multi-million pound funding gap and no “full” plan.

Delayed by five days, a crucial report on the state of the local authority’s finances was eventually published yesterday.

And it lists a number of measures the council have been forced to address since their so-called “innovative” plan to sell-off the conurbation’s beach huts to fund £50million of transformation was torpedoed by central government.

Read more: BCP Council's budget discussed during scrutiny meetings

On Friday, leader of the council, Cllr Drew Mellor blamed the chancellor’s ‘mini-budget’ statement for the delay to the report, which should have been provided days earlier.

The papers were made available to the public, press and members of the committee mid-morning yesterday.

Written by chief finance officer, Adam Richens, it provides the first real update on the authority’s progress towards providing a balanced budget by using “traditional local government” means.

The local authority was forced to ask the government for £76million over three years, including £20million in the current year.

Bournemouth Echo: BCP Council and inset, Paul ScullyBCP Council and inset, Paul Scully

And while government have confirmed they would be ‘minded to’ offer BCP Council £20million for the next year, minister Paul Scully reiterated his “significant concerns” about the financial direction of the council in a letter to the authority earlier this month.

Read more: Key report on BCP Council's finances delayed again

The report says the funding gap has been reduced from £36million to £16million.

But there is still not a full plan for addressing this, it adds, although progress has been made.

One of the major issues highlighted in Mr Richens report was the funding for schools as part of the Dedicated School’s Grant from government.

Currently, BCP Council’s deficit on this grant is greater than the total general unearmarked reserves of the council.

The report lays this deficit at the feet of expenditure in the high needs block – pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – as it is higher than the funding from government.

Should the government not extend the rule allowing the council to ignore the deficit beyond next March, the council will be in an “untenable position”, the report states.

“It is anticipated that the government will extend these regulations, but it must be emphasised that is by no means certain and cannot be guaranteed”, it adds.

Read more: How serious are financial challenges facing BCP Council

The cost of living crisis is also referenced, with a separate report on these pressures to be brought to cabinet on October 26.

This will include raising income through fees and charges and a look at charging for discretionary services. This could include library fines and parking charges to raise cash.

What else are they considering?

The council are also considering a sell-off of some ‘non-strategic’ assets to cover the transformation costs. It is a measure the Conservative group have frequently previously accused their opposition predecessors of planning.

Some buildings leased to the council will handed back as soon as possible, with a view to possibly selling others not needed.

And further ‘commercialisation’ is also afoot with options around beach huts still on the table as well as a look at community events.

Efforts are also being made to reduce the cost of staffing either through a review of vacancies, crackdown on use of non-statutory agency staff and acceleration of an apprenticeship programme. It also confirms staffing levels ‘will be impacted’ by future years funding gaps.

Council tax and business rates could also be in for changes, with a review into both collection funds.

The report will be discussed by councillors before going to cabinet on Wednesday. It is expected Cllr Mellor will be at the meeting to take questions.