Cash strapped Peterborough City Council has made progress on improving its finances over the past six months – but have been warned major risks remain going forward.
A report from the council’s Independent Improvement and Assurance Panel (IIAP) has said the Council has made progress in the last six months towards the aim of financial sustainability – but has warned there is significant work still to do, and the authority ‘is not out of the woods yet.
The report, which will be discussed at next weeks’ Full Council meeting, said the council had managed to achieve a balanced budget for 2022/23, with an ‘underspend’ of £4m from the previous year helping the situation.
However, for the next budget, savings of £ 7.972 million out of £16.673 million has been delivered , leaving £8.701 million to be implemented of which £0.83 million is regarded as unlikely to be achieved.
When it comes to governance, the report says there are still concerns.
The report says: “The Panel’s overall view is that the City Council is making progress with the actions on governance and cultural change. However, there is much more to do especially when it comes to putting these changes into practice. Major risks remain and the Council is not “out of the woods” yet.”
The panel has also called for council officers and councillors from across the political spectrum to work together to make more progress - with the onus put on council leader Wayne Fitzgerald to engage with other parties.
The report says: “Whilst there is a degree of continuity with the Conservative led minority administration still in place, a high degree of uncertainty remains about decision making in the Council chamber. There are no guarantees that the administration’s policies will be accepted by Council. This situation reinforces the need for the engagement of all councillors in the deliberations of the Council. The onus is on the Leader and his administration to continue the efforts to engage the other parties in supporting delivery of the Improvement Plan.”
Councillor Fitzgerald, said: “We knew from the start that although there might be some quick fixes, it would take time to deliver long-term changes and transformation that will enable the council to achieve financial sustainability and at the same time provide good quality services for our residents.
“This report shows that we have made real progress in so many areas, delivering a balanced budget in the current financial year without external support, achieving an underspend in the last financial year which has helped bolster our reserves and in looking at how we can transform our services longer term, so they are financially sustainable.
“I am also pleased that the report noted the good cooperation from our staff, who we could not have achieved any of this without. I would also like to thank the members of the panel for the time and effort they have devoted so far to our council – their expertise and guidance continues to be invaluable.”