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CIPFA Funding Advisory Services Network (FAS) provides advice and guidance on future grant funding levels to local government and we have received good feedback over recent years that our financial modelling projections have been essential in helping councils better understand and plan for maintaining a balanced budget.
But with Northampton County Council having issued a section 114 notice and the National Audit Office expressing concern over the longer term financial sustainability of many other local authorities during the current period of austerity, CIPFA is looking at further proactive ways to support the sector.
On 16 March I outlined three key lessons for local government following Northampton Council’s section 114 announcement:
1) The need for resources to be more appropriately distributed to meet the service demands placed on councils at a local level. This is especially key for those upper tier councils with high statutory demand services such as adults and children’s services.
2) A call for greater transparency and ownership of the financial challenges faced by the sector, so that councils can make the tough decisions needed to maintain a balanced and resilient budget.
3) To ensure council reserves are maintained to an appropriate and sustainable level and that future plans to deliver services remain realistic and avoid any risk of optimism bias in their finances.
We also outlined a number of actions CIPFA is now working towards to ensure these lessons prove to be a basis of successful improvement for local government.
This includes a new code of practice covering financial management and planning; an annual financial resilience index covering all councils for a period of four years ahead, and a blend of officer and member training modules, events and tools; and in the months ahead CIPFA will say much more about each of these elements.
However, as part of this the FAS is therefore changing with immediate effect to provide a more complete support package for practitioners and their councils to model and analyse resources. This includes a new budgeting modelling tool and access to a range of events and materials with industry experts.
I invite you now to benefit from these changes by becoming a subscriber to this network.
See our website for further detail on our support plans and download the service plan to discover what the FAS can now do for you, including details of how to subscribe.