Summary of the 2015/16 Financial Year

In 2015/16 the Authority made significant progress in delivering its future plans with substantial investment in a number of key areas.

After focusing on cost reduction for a number of years, in response to government cuts in National Park grant, the Authority has been able to focus its attention on a number of projects essential to improving the delivery of our statutory purposes and to the future viability of the Authority.  This investment is built on a guaranteed future baseline income from

This investment is built on a guaranteed future baseline income from government. The Authority has lost none of its ambition for the national park and in order satisfy this we are looking to find alternative ways of delivering and financing our shared ambitions.

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Key Investments and Projects

 The highlight of the year has been the commencement of the construction of The Sill National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed on Hadrian’s Wall.

The project was awarded a £7,748,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014/15. In 2015/16: £1,056,000 of Heritage Lottery Funds; £1,000,000 of Rural Local Growth Funds; £44,500 of Youth Hostel Association funds and; £395,500 of charitable and philanthropic funds were drawn down.

£275,000 of the charitable funds were received via the recently established Northumberland National Park Foundation. The construction is proceeding on a fixed price contract and The Sill is scheduled to open in June 2017.

 Further funding has been pledged from philanthropic and charitable sources along with a £500,000 capital grant from Northumberland County Council and a Youth Hostel Association capital contribution of £250,000. Fundraising will continue over the 5 years of the project in order to maximise the impact of The Sill and transform how people of all ages understand and explore the landscapes, history and heritage of Northumberland and the wider region.

 During the construction of The Sill, we have moved our southern operations team and visitor centre operation temporarily to our Walltown site. There was £25,700 of capital investment funded from revenue to install temporary steel offices to facilitate this. Early signs of visitor engagement and trading at this site are positive.

Other substantial investments made during the year were: 

· Capital expenditure of £123,200 to expand parking capacity at the popular Housesteads Car Park on Hadrian’s Wall. For the first time the Authority utilised its option to borrow, drawing down a loan of £100,000 from the Public Works Loan Board over 10 years. Costs were higher than anticipated due to the discovery of important archaeology on the site. This was excavated, recorded and conserved prior to the completion of the works which led to short delay and an increase in costs which the Authority has funded from revenue.

· The refurbishment of Bulby’s Wood Toilet Block was completed in July 2016. The capital cost of £135,800 (£11,655 in the 2014/15 financial year) was funded from revenue having being released from an earmarked reserve established in 2013/14. The much improved facilities now include a reliable water supply, public Wi-Fi and an unmanned visitor information facility base for volunteers and national park activities.

· Building on the success of the Eastburn, Hexham Enterprise Hub, which received financial support for the capital build from Rural Growth Network Funds, the Authority added a further two office pods at Eastburn. The cost of the new pods was £32,700 and was funded from revenue. The Authority’s contribution to the overall project is forecast to pay back in full early 2016/17 and will then contribute to core national park purposes going forward.

The Authority continues to focus on improving commercial income generation, access to grants and philanthropic fund raising.  Key to this has been work towards delivering our commercial income strategy, which was again substantially achieved for the year. During the year Government extended ‘Power of Competence’ to the Authority which provides new opportunities for the Authority to explore future income generation and we will now look as to how we can use this new power.

The Authority fully achieved 65% of its broad work programme for the year. 31% of actions were partially complete, this is reflected in the large financial budget carry forward of £598.500. This shows the work programme remains challenging. With only 4% of actions not achieved we are confident the work programme is realistic.

Overall this performance continues to represent a significant achievement and positive impact in the National Park, its communities and businesses.

Financial Performance

The financial performance in 2015/16 saw a Budget surplus outturn of £445,300 which increased the General Fund reserves balance by £96,400 and established a short term capital grants unapplied reserve of £348,900.  The Authority had taken significant action in prior years to reduce its costs in response to cuts in National Park grant and as a result its net operating expenditure of £2,334,800 was only 93% of National Park grant.  The net operating surplus of £252,300, plus the interest receivable of £13,100 and net project income of £100,300 was used to finance net capital expenditure of £269,300.  The resulting surplus increased the general fund balance by £96,400.

The Authority’s long term pension liability decreased by £380,000 to £2,950,000 following the Scheme’s actuary’s latest review.  This is a long term funding liability and the Authority is continuing to reduce its historical liability with fixed annual payments of £77,000 per annum.

During the year the General Fund and Useable Reserves increased by £445,300 to £2,494,800; however after allowing for earmarked reserves and the capital grants unapplied account the overall level of unallocated reserves reduces to £1,106,500. The unallocated reserves allow the Authority to manage the budget timing differences arising from The Sill project and allow the Authority to invest in the next 3 year business plan from March 2017.

Summary

The increased level of investment, partnership funding and an overall delivery of our Corporate Plan show that the National Park Authority continues, with our partners, to deliver towards the long term well being of the National Park and do so within a framework of sound financial and environmental management.

Northumberland National Park Authority manages its finances through a medium-term financial plan. The key financial indicators are shown below:

Key Financial Stats NPA Report 1516 graphs

Key Financial Stats NPA Report 1516 graphs-2 

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