As well as our extensive work programme to influence funding for local government, we have updated our finance offer to help local authorities.
Increasingly, local authorities have told us they are looking for good practice and support to help them manage their overall finances in these difficult times. This can range from achieving productivity or efficiency savings through to ways of helping them engage with their local communities to prioritise how they spend reduced resources.
Our finance offer relies on making use of expertise in the sector, both member and officer peers. It includes:
- a new financial review
- a financial health check
- a budget challenge
- tools to allow councils to assess their own financial position and consider opportunities and threats to their financial strategy.
Our finance offer also highlights key elements of our existing offer, in particular around productivity and efficiency, and signposts the contributions that other organisations such as Local Partnerships can make.
Finance Improvement and Sustainability Associates (FISA) Programme
The FISA Programme uses LGA advisors – all of them former local authority chief finance officers- who are available to give advice and insight to councils facing financial challenges. Our FISAs can provide a Financial Health Check on the council or support in challenging your budget. Alternatively we can provide experienced member peers who can work with councillors to help them understand the budget challenge they face.
Bespoke Support - Peterborough City Council
Peterborough City Council is a small unitary authority, who even before the COVID pandemic were facing significant financial challenges. The council forecast an overspend of £9.6m in 2020/21 and was planning to use almost three quarters of its £34m reserves by the end of the year. This would leave the council with just £8.7m in reserves going into 2021/22, equivalent to just under 5% of its budget for 2020/21.
The LGA provided a significant package of wrap around support including; providing independent challenge to the strategic finance team and the people’s directorate to identify further savings, supporting the recruitment of a finance and property director, facilitated cross party member peer mentoring, helped councillors absorb and act on the findings of a recent financial review, targeted officer mentoring, peer support to Adults and Children’s services senior officers as well as a dedicated financial adviser to drive the assurance work for the capitalisation direction allowing the council officers to focus on finding and achieving the savings required as set out in the budget. The LGA advisor also mentored senior finance officers and acted as a critical friend.
Considerable achievements were made, including finding £4.8m in-year savings, which was aided by the capitalisation direction of £5.6m.
Collaborative Finance Panels
The Collaborative Finance Panel is a platform for chief finance officers from different parts of the country to discuss common and related problems as well as share good practice. It is also a learning network where issues and concerns are discussed in a supportive and constructive environment.
Discussions are held under the Chatham House rule and are confidential.