Local authorities have borne the greatest impact in terms of central government cuts since 2010.
The scale of reduction, along with a degree of volatility around the phasing/timing of these cuts can make it very difficult for authorities to plan their spending priorities strategically rather than making tactical decisions year by year. The need for effective medium term planning has never been stronger.
The Government's response to these concerns has been an offer of a guaranteed minimum grant award, paid to councils for a four-year period from April 2016 covering Revenue Support Grant, Transitional Funding and Rural Services Delivery Grant.
This, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has said, should increase local authority certainty and confidence and would be a key step towards supporting councils to strengthen financial management and work collaboratively with local partners when considering the way local services are provided in future.
To take advantage of this offer authorities needs to approve, publish and submit an Efficiency Plan by 14 October 2016. The Council has therefore produced an Efficiency Plan in order to take-up this opportunity.
The Efficiency Plan sets out the projected financial position within the Council's Medium Term Financial Plan, which is based on the guaranteed minimum funding for the three funding streams included in the offer.
Building in certainty in our financial projections for part of our funding helps to ensure the size of the challenge is understood. We can therefore make plans and take decisions to progress with efficiency and improvement projects with greater confidence that the benefits will be long-lasting and not undermined by further funding reductions. The transformation and other plans set out in this document describe how our community will benefit from the changes proposed.
The Secretary of State has not been prescriptive about what an Efficiency Plan should contain. We believe however, the cornerstone of the Efficiency Plan is the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) for the four years of the offer, together with the Transformation Business Case that has been approved by the Council. The Plan sets out what a council intends to do to address the challenge of financial sustainability and where it hopes to be at the end of the period.