Wednesday 17 July 2024
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Nottingham

‘High risk’ that council may not be able to achieve required £16m savings

The finance director at Nottingham City Council says there is a “high risk” the authority will fail to deliver a significant portion of its required £16m savings as part of ongoing transformation work.

An improvement plan was developed by the council upon the collapse of Robin Hood Energy in a bid to get it on to a more stable financial footing, and a transformation programme has been taking place to put in place these changes.

As part of the scheme, numerous savings and cuts are being made by making changes and putting in place efficiencies in departments and services.

In 2022/23, the council managed to overachieve and deliver corporate transformation savings totalling just under £1.5m.

However this year, in 2023/24, the council faces a “much bigger challenge” as the required savings total just under £16m.

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At a Corporate Scrutiny Committee meeting on September 13, Shabana Kausar, the council’s director of finance, said 51 per cent of the £16m total is at risk of proving “undeliverable”.

“There is a high risk,” she told councillors.

“Those are concerns to myself, obviously the corporate leadership team and also to councillor [Audra] Wynter, that it is imperative that we can kind of get these on track to understand what the delivery is.

“We do have a new transformation and oversight board. We are very much looking at each one of these savings programmes to really understand the operational delivery risks and what can we do to kind of accelerate some of that.

“But there is still a risk at this stage that this won’t be managed and will manifest still and remain as a pressure, but we are doing a lot of work with services through the transformation team.”

Savings are needed after the council revealed in July it “does not have a good financial grip” on its budget over the coming year and faces even more cuts and savings to bridge a £26m gap.

The hole in its budget for 2023/24 has opened up due to factors including rising inflation and a nationally agreed staff pay award.

The cost of supporting people who are homeless because of the cost of living crisis and reduced Government funding has also been blamed.

The council is also predicting a gap of £50.9m in the 2024/25 financial year, before rising again to £58.7m over the following four-year period.

In 2022/23, an overspend of £9.8m was also reported, and this will be filled using reserves.

The council’s deputy leader, who also looks after finance, Cllr Audra Wynter, previously said “Some difficult decisions about transforming the way we deliver services and doing some things differently will be needed, along with strong financial discipline”.

“We are determined to do so, to set a balanced and realistic budget over the medium term, and keep the council on a sustainable financial footing,” she added in a statement in July.

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