Luxfords Restaurant, part of Uckfield Civic Centre

Luxfords: Unexpectedly large wage rise helped throw budget off course

A higher wage rise than expected for Luxfords staff is one of the reasons the restaurant has failed to meet financial targets.

The explanation was offered to councillors by Uckfield town clerk Holly Goring at a meeting this week of the council’s general purposes committee.

She said the council fixed its budget in January last year but when the national wage rise was announced some weeks later, it was far higher than the amount budgeted.

Deficit

Luxfords accounts has been a concern for councillors through much of the last financial year.

In February, this website reported that losses at the council-run eatery were mounting.

At that meeting Cllr Paul Sparks said: “Clearly, we should not be running a restaurant that creates such a large financial loss.”

See our report of that meeting here

The concerns about Luxfords come at the same time as worries over the general trading figures for the Weald Hall, also in the Civic Centre, which also have slipped.

See our report here

Financial

Latest figures for Luxfords were presented to the council committee on Monday.

They relate for the first 11 months of the financial year, up until the end of February.

Total sales at that stage were budgeted to be £160,029 but actuals were only £135,210.

Costs at this point were expected to be £160,483 but were actually £164,291.

Food sales

Sales for restaurant food are down £18,000 at £93,736 against a budget of £112,000 in the year to date.

Restaurant food purchases are £34,967 against a budget of £37,000.

As the town clerk pointed out, in the 2018/19 the budget for Luxfords salaries was set at £76,851 up until the end of March but, in fact, £86,007 has been spent.

Discussion

At the committee meeting, the clerk, Holly Goring, said: “I was really keen to speak on this topic.

“It has been a subject of much discussion in every GP meeting, probably this year.”

Ms Goring said the financial forecasts showed the Luxfords restaurant as having a balanced budget for 2018/19.

“I think we all know around this table that the Luxfords restaurant has some overheads and it does need to review those.

Incorrect

“To set a balanced budget was probably incorrect to start with.

“I would also remind members once again of one of the main issues.

“We saw a vast increase in salaries back in April last year.

“We have to set our budget in January, so we could not foresee that vast increase.

Much higher

“We always allow for a couple of per cent increase but last year was much higher for those lower scales on the National Joint Council scale range.”

She said to members: “Please do bear that in mind.”

Ms Goring said further information would be given to members at the end of the meeting when they further discussed Luxfords in private.

On a par

She said March was looking more healthy for the figures and “when I compare last year’s figures with the year before, we are actually on a par with income”.

She said there more reasons and more context than councillors just saw in the financial data they were given.

“I ask you to be wary of that before statements are made and things placed in the Press.

“Actually, we are far healthier than we were two years ago on income.”

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