Budgets and efficiency | LocalGov

Scottish councils’ debt is one-and-a-half times funding


The debt of councils in Scotland is more than one-and-a-half times the latest local government funding settlement, the Scottish Conservatives have found.

Brum consults on £2.3m library cuts


Cash-strapped Birmingham City Council has launched a consultation on how it will cut £2.3m from its library budget.

Homelessness inquiry launched by NAO


The National Audit Office (NAO) has launched an inquiry into homelessness as the issue piles pressure on squeezed council budgets.

Shropshire Council staff offered voluntary redundancy


Staff at Shropshire Council have been offered voluntary redundancy as part of the local authority's plans to lose 300 full time jobs.

Middlesbrough avoids ‘catastrophic’ s114 with approved budget


Councillors in Middlesbrough have approved a budget with ‘savings and income generation plans’ worth £13.9m.

Sheriff of Nottingham suspended from Labour


The only Nottingham City councillor to vote against budget cuts has been suspended from the Labour Party.

Watchdog warning over Moray's funding gap


Moray Council must act quickly to shore up its finances, Audit Scotland has warned.

Majority of northern councils face ‘financial failure’ within five years


More than half of councils in the north of England are at risk of ‘financial failure’ within the next five years, analysis has found.

Councils set for £2.5bn in exceptional financial support


The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has agreed to grant 19 local authorities ‘in principle’ capitalisation directions worth almost £2.5bn.

14 councils ‘likely’ to issue s114s next year


More than half of councils are likely to issue a section 114 notice within the next parliament unless funding is reformed, senior local authority figures have warned.

Vote planned for first UK coastal tourism tax


Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole hoteliers will vote on the introduction of a tourist tax as the authority withdraws direct funding amid budget pressures.

Nottingham executive refuses to back budget cuts


Executive members of cash-strapped Nottingham City Council have refused to recommend a report that sets out £20m in budget cuts.

Council financial crisis ‘out of control’


MPs have issued a stark warning on the ‘very real’ prospect of more councils in England ‘effectively going bust’ if the Government does not address a £4bn funding gap.

DLUHC claims four-day week council saw spike in agency staff


South Cambridgeshire DC’s controversial four-day week trial is under fresh scrutiny after data revealed a spike in agency work and opponents challenged costs.

Argyll and Bute considers 10% council tax hike


Argyll and Bute Council are considering a council tax rise of 10% in order to tackle ‘enormous budget challenges’.

Clampdown threat to diversity programmes


The Government is to clampdown on diversity programmes as part of a drive to ‘reduce wasteful expenditure’.

Southampton latest to request financial support


Southampton City Council has begun the ‘sensible’ process of seeking Exceptional Financial Support (EFS) as it struggles to balance its budgets.

First North Yorkshire mayoral election to cost £2m


The election of the first mayor of a new York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority is set to cost £2.2m, a council report has revealed.

Scottish councils face ‘difficult decisions’ on cuts


‘Intensifying pressures’ on Scottish local authorities mean they must make difficult decisions on service delivery to remain financially sustainable, a watchdog has said.

BCP warns of S114 risk over schools funding


A growing deficit on its dedicated schools grant (DSG) could force Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council to issue a section 114 notice this year.

Leaderships posts left vacant to cut costs


Senior leadership posts at Cheshire East Council are being temporarily left vacant as the authority faces ‘significant financial pressures’.

Council warns of S114 risk over HS2 costs


Cheshire East Council has warned that it may have to issue a section 114 notice after spending £11m preparing for HS2, as it continues to press for compensation.

Swindon’s finances on a ‘cliff edge’


Axing 80 jobs is one proposal among a raft of measures under consideration by Swindon Borough Council as it seeks to cover a £14m shortfall.

Middlesbrough proposes job cuts as it warns of ‘tough choices’


Middlesbrough Council has proposed axing 75 full-time equivalent posts and cutting social care costs as it scrambles to set a balanced budget for next year.

Quarter of Scottish councils fear bankruptcy


Nearly a quarter of Scottish councils fear they will be unable to balance their budget next year, new research shows.

Nottingham proposes cutting 550 jobs


Nottingham City Council has proposed cutting 554 full-time equivalent posts in an attempt to tackle its financial shortfall.

Birmingham given a month to make £300m savings plan


Commissioners have given Birmingham City Council until 7 January to set out a ‘credible plan’ for addressing a £300m budget gap over the next two years.

One in five councils report bankruptcy fears


A poll of council leaders and chief executives has revealed that one in five think it likely that their chief finance officer will need to issue a Section 114.

Hull’s finances ‘reaching the end of the road’


The leader of Hull City Council has warned the Government that it will not be able to set a balanced budget in 2025-26 without intervention.

Derbyshire denies facing ‘bankruptcy situation’


Derbyshire County Council said ‘serious challenges’ lie ahead despite its progress in tackling its financial shortfall.

Brum commissioners warn council will need further help to agree lawful budget


Commissioners at Birmingham City Council have warned it will struggle to agree a lawful budget next year without further help.

Somerset declares ‘financial emergency’


Somerset Council has declared it is facing a ‘financial emergency’ and agreed that ‘urgent actions’ are required to tackle a £100m shortfall.

Council looks to address £100m ‘black hole’


Somerset Council is considering measures, including reducing staffing and cutting services to statutory levels, to cover a £100m funding gap.

Call for Government write off of Croydon debt


The Government should write off Croydon LBC’s £1.3bn of General Fund debt, a senior opposition councillor has urged.

DCN writes to Hunt over temporary accommodation pressures


Following a summit attended by 158 councils, the District Councils’ Network (DCN) has warned chancellor Jeremy Hunt about ‘unprecedented’ numbers of people turning to councils in the face of homelessness.

One in 10 county councils facing effective bankruptcy


England’s county and unitary authorities are ‘running out of road’ to prevent insolvency, with one in 10 not sure they can balance their budget this year.

Emergency summit held amid temporary accommodation warnings


More than 150 councils this week attended an emergency summit as the cost of temporary accommodation to local authorities increases rapidly.

S114 ‘almost inevitable’ for Leicester


Leicester City Council is ‘rapidly running out of options’ to cut costs and faces financial crisis ahead of its 2025-26 budget, its mayor has warned Michael Gove.

EXCLUSIVE: Nightmare before Christmas?


The provisional local government finance settlement will be published just before Christmas, council chiefs have been told.

Welsh councils face £750m shortfall


Local government finances in Wales are on an ‘unsustainable path’, according to a report from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre.

DCN in cuts warning


Cultural services, community support and parks and green spaces are all at risk of cuts without a boost to the local government finance settlement, respondents to a District Councils’ Network (DCN) survey have warned.

Council to limit non-essential spending amid s114 threat


Windsor & Maidenhead BC is to limit all non-essential spending as it raised the risk of a section 114.

Woking entered s114 territory in 2018


Woking BC may have faced a section 114 notice at least four years before it declared effective bankruptcy, senior councillors have been told.

Brum braced for Government intervention


Birmingham City Council is braced for a wide-ranging Government intervention to help rescue the authority’s bleak finances, and improve political and officer leadership.

Long-term solution sought to drainage board pressure


Councils are seeking a ‘long-term solution’ as internal drainage boards (IDB) warn increasing energy costs will pile further pressure on council budgets.

EXCLUSIVE: Councils in dark over new funding stream


More financial uncertainty is being piled onto councils over the distribution of a fresh funding stream, The MJ has been told.

Croydon approves 15% tax hike


Croydon LBC has approved a 15% council tax increase as part of a 2023-24 budget that was originally rejected.

Council in £540m debt write off plea


Croydon LBC has asked Government to write off £540m of its debt in 2023-24 to ‘restore financial sustainability’.

DLUHC: No more section 114 notices expected


Whitehall officials are not expecting councils to issue further section 114 notices in the coming weeks, crediting the sector’s ‘positive’ settlement.

Brown to ask Government to bypass referendum limit


The chief executive of troubled Slough Council is preparing to ask the Government for permission to increase council tax above the 5% legal limit.

Section 114 notice issued for Thurrock


Thurrock Council’s interim director of finance, Jonathan Wilson, has issued a section 114 notice as the authority faces a £470m in-year funding gap.

Districts push for council tax flexibility


Districts are pushing the Government to allow them to increase council tax by more than 3% or £5 without a referendum.

£470m in-year budget gap at Thurrock revealed


Troubled Thurrock BC has revealed it has no way to fill its £470m in-year budget gap without a Government bailout.

Council offers all staff volutary redundancy


Northumberland Council has offered all of its staff the option of voluntary redundancy as it attempts to rein in a predicted £12m budget overspend.

Council chiefs warn of 'disastrous' financial crisis


More councils could be tipped into financial crisis while others face emergency cuts due to soaring inflation and living wage increases, the LGA warned today.

Counties in inflation funding call


County councils have called for extra Government funding to cope with huge increases caused by inflation.

Nottingham expected to bring housing back under direct control after probes


Nottingham City Council is expected to bring its housing back under direct control after two independent probes found ‘underlying issues around governance and finance’.

Slough given conditions for £300m bailout


Slough Council will only be considered for a £307m Government bailout to cover its deficits if it proves it can turn itself around financially, the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has warned.

Cornwall plans to cut 400 jobs


The cuts are part of plans to save £55m in order to balance the council’s budget in 2022-23.

LGA warning over soaring care costs


Soaring adult and children’s care costs mean councils could ‘soon fail to support everyone they need to,’ town halls have warned.

Powys' savings off target


Powys CC’s savings plans are 22% off target more than halfway through the financial year, senior councillors have been warned.

Slough approves asset fire sale


Crisis-hit Slough Council has approved plans to flog around £600m worth of assets as it battles to get its finances under control.

£3bn gap looms for councils


Councils in England, Wales and Scotland are grappling with huge budget deficits totalling more than £3bn for the next financial year, according to research published by trade union Unison today. 

Councils left seriously underfunded, NAO finds


Coronavirus has left local authorities seriously underfunded and facing budget cuts unless the Government can create a long-term financial plan for the sector, a study from the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned.

Employers branded a 'disgrace' over council pay delay


Council employers have been branded a ‘disgrace’ after they said they would not respond to a union pay claim until after the May 6 elections.

Scottish Budget 'falls short'


The Scottish Government’s £11.6bn budget ‘falls short of the fair funding local government requires,’ councils have said.

More councils will be forced to issue Section 114 notices, MPs warn


More councils will ‘soon be unable to balance their books and be forced to issue Section 114 notices,’ the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned.

Croydon would have issued s114 'in normal circumstances'


Croydon LBC’s £49m total net forecast general fund overspend means it would have had to have issued a Section 114 notice in ‘normal circumstances,’ senior councillors have heard.

£260m funding boost for Welsh councils


Welsh ministers have announced a £260m funding boost for councils, bringing the total amount of government COVID-19 support to almost half a billion pounds.

IfG: Extend outsourcing reforms to councils


Government reforms of outsourcing to avoid another Carillion collapse must be extended to local government where commercial skills lag behind Whitehall, a report from the Institute for Government (IfG) think-tank has said.

Seven out of 10 councils overspend on homelessness


Seven out of 10 English councils overspent their homelessness budgets in 2018/19 by a combined total of nearly £115m, Local Government Association (LGA) analysis has found.

Reorganisation in Somerset would 'cut waste and save money'


A single, unitary authority for Somerset would deliver a predicted saving of £35-£47m, according to new research.

Whitehall silence as Gwynne calls for provisional settlement


Shadow local government secretary Andrew Gwynne has called on ministers to publish the provisional finance settlement immediately amid silence on its timing from Whitehall.

Only 5% of council leaders optimistic about Brexit


Councils are increasingly downbeat about the impact of Brexit, with nearly three quarters (71%) of chiefs expecting it to have a ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ impact on their local economy.

Universal Credit draining council resources


Universal Credit (UC) is draining resources from councils, a new survey has found.

Hopes for legislative backing behind new code


An overhaul of financial management in councils could be enshrined in law, according to a consultation that stakeholders must respond to within days to influence.

Council buys office to generate income


South Cambridgeshire DC has made a £13m investment in a high-quality office building to generate an initial net return of around 5.6%.

Exclusive: Government must 'step up' on adult social care


The council ranked the best at delivering most for the money it spends on adult social care has called on the Government to ‘step up’.

Call for tourism tax review


An inquiry into cultural investment in cities has called for a UK-wide review of the benefits of a tourism tax.

LGA faces financial headache


Smith Square has acknowledged the financial challenges it faces as it freezes subscriptions while grappling with declining Government grants and a pension scheme deficit.

Watchdog highlights councils' weak financial plans


The number of public bodies in England with weak financial plans is ‘unacceptably high,’ the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.

Welsh Government gives £24m boost to councils


Welsh councils will be handed an extra £23.6m in 2019/20 on the condition that they commit to regional working.

Council hits back at 'illegitimate' loan claim


Newham LBC has denied claims that decisions to enter into controversial high-interest loans were illegitimate.

Finance settlement has 'gravest implications'


Councils have dismissed today’s Welsh Government’s finance settlement as a ‘bread and butter budget’ in which town halls ‘get the crumbs again’.

Welfare support has 'collapsed' for many in England


One in six top-tier councils are not providing vital welfare services devolved to them just as the sector’s budget cuts hit hard.

Cash-strapped county faces £94m funding gap


Surrey CC faces a funding gap of £94m by March 2021 unless it takes drastic action to change its finances, a report by accountancy experts has warned.

LEPs told to improve ahead of EU funding changes


Fresh concerns have emerged about local enterprise partnerships (LEP) as the Government considers whether to use them to funnel UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) cash.

Budget gap doubles at Lewisham


Lewisham LBC’s budget gap has more than doubled following an ‘unprecedented’ overspend.

Somerset warns of possible Section 114


Somerset CC has admitted it may have to impose ‘severe spending restrictions’ and an ‘emergency budget’ by issuing a Section 114 notice.

Funding call to end 'postcode lottery' for children's services


MPs today called for more funds to help end a so-called postcode lottery for children’s services.

Rise in children's services spending


The amount expected to be spent on children’s social care in 2018/19 is up 6.8% or £542m compared to the figure in 2017/18 budgets, latest figures have shown.

Councils plan largest council tax rise in 13 years


Council Tax levels will increase by an average of 5.1% across England in 2018/19, the largest rise for 13 years, ministers have confirmed.

EXCLUSIVE: Funding red flags raised


One in 10 council bosses fear their local authority will not have enough funding to fulfil their statutory duties in 2018/19, an exclusive survey has found today.

County council imposes an emergency spending ban


Northamptonshire CC’s director of finance has issued a section 114 order, calling a halt to spending at the cash-strapped authority. 

Labour accuses Government of 'holding back' local government


Labour MPs have urged ministers to provide ‘strategic vision’ for local government.

Scottish government under pressure over council pay


Scotland’s Government is under pressure to reverse planned council budget cuts after MSPs warned ministers created an ‘expectation’ town hall staff would receive pay hikes.

EXCLUSIVE: Finance settlement 'shambles' after provisional data wrong


The local government finance settlement has descended into a shambles after it emerged allocations in the provisional document were wrong, The MJ can exclusively reveal.

Council tax increase limit raised by Javid


Councils will be allowed to increase their core council tax by up to 3% in 2018/19 without a referendum, potentially raising an additional £250m.

Budget 2017: London to retain all local business rate growth


London local government will be able to keep all its business rates growth as part of a 100% retention pilot.

Participatory budgeting given go ahead in Scotland


Residents in Scotland will be given a say in how £100m of council funds are to be used after a ‘landmark’ agreement was reached between the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

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Addressing regional inequalities

Andrew Borland, Chief Innovation Officer at the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), University of Liverpool discusses the importance of levelling up for growth.
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Banning urban pesticide use

RSPB and PAN are working on a letter from local councillors calling on the Government to introduce a national ban on urban pesticide use. Find out more below.
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