Budgeting in volatile times
As we transition to a post-COVID world, councils are going to have to ‘learn quickly in real time’ how to handle levels of demand and price volatility never seen before in the sector, says Gary Fielding.
Shielding from future shocks
Amid a global pandemic, councils are dealing with an ‘eye-wateringly high’ list of obstacles to long-term financial planning, says Gary Fielding. He offers guidance on how to plan a way through uncertainty.
Let’s hope for a legacy of greater trust
The monthly COVID financial returns for government are part of good bureaucracy, says Gary Fielding. But he wonders why are there so many additional return requests.
We can't just kick the can down the road
The recently revised advice promoted by CIPFA rightly helps finance directors to give their own organisations more opportunity than ever to try and avoid a s114, says Gary Fielding.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best
In the current climate all that local government can do is prepare a range of scenarios and reactions, says Gary Fielding. 'It feels like the best approach is to prepare for the worst, hope for the best and be unsurprised with anything in-between.'
Reduced council spending is not all good news
Councils can't save the economy single-handedly, says Gary Fielding. Especially not at the expense of their own solvency.
Today things feel tougher than they ever have
We remain unsighted on the totality of financial support for coronavirus in this year, says Gary Fielding - and without a Spending Review there is no clarity beyond next March. Out of all of this councils still need to have a plan for the future.
Money matters to the extent that it supports life and wellbeing
Gary Fielding says we will all have to pay for the economic consequences of COVID-19, but perhaps more of us will be prepared to accept investing more in communities and social care.
Calm prevails despite tough times
A lack of clarity on funding, including on temporary monies for social care and SEND beyond 31 March 2021 means these are challenging times, says Gary Fielding - but despite this most senior officers and councillors seem remarkably calm, he adds.
Let's put investment into our school buildings
Schools capital allocations have been skewed by political priorities, says Gary Fielding As a result, North Yorkshire CC 'find ourselves with swathes of the country having insufficient places to meet demand and/or poor building conditions'.
Is there a better way for business rates?
How keen should councils be to bind themselves to a business rates tax that appears to be in demise both financially and reputationally, asks Gary Fielding
Don't erode new funding with fresh obligations
The Spending Round was good news for councils, but if there is a systematic erosion of that funding with new obligations 'it risks leaving a sour taste', says Gary Fielding.
Can't we keep things simple?
Gary Fielding would much rather get his finance team off the accounts as quickly as possible and 'engaged in helping to provide financial management'.
Are reserves such a bad thing?
The public naming of 11 councils deemed at risk of running out of cash reserves has thrown the spotlight on how this money should be spent. Gary Fielding says careful use of reserves can be the solution to a range of issues.
Can we all work smarter?
Gary Fielding says that even if the government loosens austerity, we probably need to do more work on our savings plans - but can we all work smarter?
We need the widest possible look at council finances
The MHCLG review of the money councils get is welcome - but we need a wider look at local authorities' responsibilities and funding from across Government departments, argues Gary Fielding.
A good plan is more important than ever
In the absence of facts - whatever they may be these days - we need to make assumptions based upon our best professional judgement, says Gary Fielding. 'Never has it felt more important that we have a good plan', he adds.