Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Financial foresight: current insights on local government financial sustainability


A decade of austerity and a lack of certainty beyond the current financial year makes it hard for councils to manage their medium to long-term financial sustainability. This report provides an overview of the road local authorities have travelled since 2010, where they are now and the options for the future.






CIPFA/Grant Thornton


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Ensuring financial sustainability is the number one issue facing local authorities. A decade of austerity and the lack of certainty beyond the current financial year – at a time of wider uncertainty such as the impact of Brexit – is the worst possible situation for councils to be managing their medium to long-term financial sustainability in. Against a backdrop of tight resources, there is much local government can do to weather the storm.

Local government is entering a new but no less testing phase, one in which tougher financial circumstances are the norm, not the exception. In such uncertain times, it’s even more important the sector takes its bearings and plots a clear and sustainable way forward.

This report gives a sense of the distance travelled since 2010 but also consider the challenges likely to face both individual authorities and the sector as a whole in the years to come. To move forward effectively, local authority leaders need to have an in-depth understanding of their own place, their medium-term financial sustainability and the financial impact specific changes, such as increasing council tax, would have. It includes a discussion between Phil Woolley, Partner at Grant Thornton leading the Public Services Insight and Consulting Practice, and CIPFA’s Consultancy Director John O’Halloran. 

Further help

Good medium-term financial planning will be key to shoring up future resilience. Grant Thornton and CIPFA’s Financial Foresight model will provide significant value to local authorities as they look forward, helping them pinpoint the pressures and craft practical, strategic and local solutions to ensure future financial and service sustainability.

Financial Resilience:
Rob Whiteman and GT’s Paul Dossett in conversation

• To talk in more detail about the Financial Foresight Model contact David Caplan or 020 7543 5600 
• For  a wider discussion about financial resilience contact John O’Halloran