MANSFIELD DISTRICT COUNCIL MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY 2010/2011 – 2013/2014 1. PURPOSE OF THE MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY 1.1 The Medium Term Financial Strategy (Strategy) sets down the way in which the Council’s financial resources will be used to deliver its services, its own priorities and those shared with its partners. 1.2 The Strategy reflects the financial impact of other internal and external plans and strategies where these priorities have been approved by the Council. 1.3 The Strategy also identifies the financial impact of things which are not necessarily within the Council’s control and proposes how these issues are to be addressed. 1.4 The overriding purpose of the Strategy is to ensure that the Council delivers its priorities whilst maintaining balanced and sustainable budgets and an adequate level of reserves. These enable the Council to reduce risks and to take advantage of opportunities which arise in line with achieving these priorities. 1.5 The Strategy is being prepared in a period of high uncertainty within international and national economies. Inflationary pressures have subsided from the 2009/2010 Strategy as the economic situation has continued to deteriorate and unemployment levels rise. Confidence for business investment particularly in housing and regeneration projects is showing signs of recovery although this is in the early stages and, being largely dependent on demand it may once again fall as unemployment increases. Economic experts have differing views in relation to when the situation will improve, however, the majority believe that the world’s economies will begin to show signs of the recession slowing down and moving towards growth during 2010/2011. Opinions differ as to whether there will be a quick recovery, slow and sustained recovery or a quick recovery followed by a further fall and further recovery later. 1.6 The way in which the recovery occurs has a major impact on the predictions for inflation and interest rates for borrowing and investing and therefore on the ability to determine the optimum strategy to adopt and provides an inherent risk in determining the optimum strategy to adopt. 1.7 This situation is felt by businesses, residents and the Council itself and has direct implications for the Council’s central priority of revitalising its town centres and neighbourhoods. The Strategy is therefore particularly concerned with how the Council will continue to deal with current economic conditions in respect of its own operations and address the wider effects taking account of initiatives introduced during 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 aimed at alleviating the impact through reduced car parking charges. Retaining general reserves will enable this and other initiatives to be introduced. 1.8 A further major area of uncertainty is the national political situation and particularly the impact of the interventions made by the Government to stabilise the banking sector, stimulate the economy and the additional borrowing required to fund this. 1.9 The Comprehensive Spending Review which would have provided government spending plans for three years, and therefore some level of certainty about grant allocations was expected in 2010, however this has been postponed. If this does take place, it will not now be until after a general election which must be held by June 2010. 1.10 Although a general election will be held before June 2010 it is expected that whichever party forms the government; there will be significant pressures to limit or reduce public expenditure. The expected limited resources will be targeted at the areas of national priority such as education or the health service. 1.11 This Strategy is therefore subject to a significant level of uncertainty about future funding and economic stability. The risks associated with assumptions are high and the required reserves necessary to mitigate this risk reflect this. 2. HOW FINANCIAL RESOURCES WILL BE USED TO IMPROVE SERVICES 2.1 The Council will always look for ways to continue to improve its services together with delivering improved efficiencies in line with the Government’s new target of 4% year on year. 2.2 The Council’s Corporate Plan has been developed and takes account of a wide range of consultation with the public and partners and will form the basis for the delivery of priorities and services and the allocation of resources. 3. IMPACT ON AND OF OTHER PLANS AND STRATEGIES 3.1 The Strategy is affected by and has an impact on a number of other Council strategies and plans, the main ones are shown below and these have been taken into account in the proposed actions. Internal: Corporate Plan Service Plans Business Transformation Strategy People Strategy Housing Strategy and Business Plan Capital Strategy Asset Management Plan Customer Services Strategy Strategic Risk Register In Partnership: Community Strategy (Big Picture) Crime Reduction Strategy Nottinghamshire Local Area Agreement Alliance SSP Local Enterprise Growth Initiative Area / Neighbourhood Plans 4. IMPACTS ON THE COUNCIL’S FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND HOW THESE WILL BE ADDRESSED 4.1 The strategy for making best use of the Council’s financial resources to achieve its priorities will be affected by a number of significant issues. The following significant areas have been identified together with the way in which the Council will address these. 4.2 Economic Slowdown 4.2.1 The economic slowdown continues to be the main issue which has an impact on the Council as an organisation, the residents of the district and businesses within the area which provide services to communities and employment for residents. 4.2.2 There is uncertainty regarding how far and for how long the current economic situation will continue which makes future predictions and forecasting difficult to provide with accuracy. Whilst the main aim of the previous document was to limit the impact, the focus now starts to move towards preparation for the recovery as reflected in the regeneration programme highlighted within the Corporate Plan. 4.2.3 The Strategy continues to have six main themes: Limit the impact on business Limit the impact on residents Limit the impact on the Council Prepare for business opportunities and show confidence for the future Prepare and support residents for employment opportunities Prepare the Council for the longer term 220.127.116.11 Impact on Businesses Continued provision of support and advice for existing businesses Use asset management flexibility to retain current tenants, including favourable leasing arrangements Use resources to maintain and revitalise Mansfield town centre economy Reduce average times for payment of invoices to ten working days Use resources to address financial hardship of businesses through discretionary business rate relief. 18.104.22.168 Impact on Residents Sustain and support the crime and disorder reduction strategy in particular by supporting activities for young people in the district Promote entitlement to housing and other benefits with partner organisations Promote and provide further resources for the Council’s money advice service and the facilities available with partners and encourage early access for ALL residents 22.214.171.124 Impact on the Council Deliver efficiencies and service improvements through Business Transformation reviews on key areas Base Budget review Employee and vacancy review Employee and elected member consultation Public consultation on priorities for the allocation of resources Service efficiency targets Service cost and income analysis 126.96.36.199 Preparation for Businesses Provision of accommodation and advice for new businesses Use asset management flexibility to attract new tenants, including favourable leasing arrangements In line with partnership arrangements support education, training and skills upgrade for residents as the future workforce Planned asset disposals to generate investment in regeneration programme and business accommodation Access external funding for regeneration programme and business accommodation Use prudential borrowing where this is affordable, sustainable and prudent to invest in regeneration programme Assess capital funding options to meet major regeneration programme 188.8.131.52 Prepare the Residents Support education and training initiatives Support activities for young people Support health education initiatives and activities Continue to invest in Mansfield District Council funded improvement of council housing and use external funding and Mansfield District Council resources for improving specific areas of low quality private sector owned and rented housing. 184.108.40.206 Prepare the Council Invest in fuel efficient technology to meet savings and carbon reduction targets Prepare town centre sites and housing land for development Business Transformation in key areas Develop employees to meet future needs Develop procurement function to identify areas for consolidation and joint procurement opportunities Investigate opportunities for housing investment and provision of affordable homes 4.3 Carbon Reduction 4.3.1 The need to reduce carbon emissions and to realise energy efficiency savings will initially be focussed on the Council’s own buildings and vehicles and proposals will be generated following the appointment of the Energy Efficiency Officer approved for the 2009/2010 budget. 4.3.2 Should investment in new technology be required, this will be assessed on a costs and benefits basis; proposals for achieving reduced emissions will form part of a Carbon Reduction Strategy. 4.4 General Inflation The economic slowdown has reduced inflation significantly with the Retail Price Index (RPI) currently negative and the Consumer Price Index (CPI and the Government’s preferred measure) at 2.2%. The Bank of England forecasts this to fall to 1.13% in April 2010 before rising marginally to 1.2% by the end of March 2011. This low level inflation impacts on the Council’s expenditure and will influence potential pay awards. 4.5 Efficiencies 4.5.1 The Council is required to identify 4% ongoing efficiencies equating to approximately £600,000 cashable savings per annum based on revenue costs. These will be delivered through: Business Transformation Strategy Efficiency targets for service areas Procurement of goods and services Service cost and income review 4.6 Pay Inflation 4.6.1 The latest information (22 July 2009) regarding the 2009/2010 pay offer by the Local Government employers is: From 1 April 2009 an increase of 1.25% on Spinal Column Point 4 to 10 inclusive From 1 April 2009 an increase of 1.00% on Spinal Column Point 11 to 49 inclusive 4.6.2 This will impact on the 2009/2010 employee budget and subsequent years and has been reflected in the projections. 4.7 Land / property / Housing prices 4.7.1 This affects the value of the Council’s assets and therefore the level of capital receipt. Prior to committing capital expenditure on schemes which are dependent upon capital receipts as part of the funding, a valuation of the property will be made and the scheme reviewed based on the results. 4.7.2 This may also affect the timing of receipts and therefore the ability to commence schemes in the anticipated timescales and will impact on the Council’s cash flow and overall capital programme. 4.7.3 Where this is the case a risk assessment will be carried out and where there is a low risk of the receipt not being achieved within the timescale, temporary cash flow borrowing will be considered. 4.7.4 Where capital receipts are not needed to finance a capital scheme, the Asset Management Plan will determine the optimum time for disposal and therefore the capital receipt achieved. 4.7.5 A target will be set for achieving capital receipts from the disposal of the Council’s property where the current cost of maintaining or the need for significant capital investment outweighs the rental income generated. This income will be used to redirect capital resources to meet the Council’s capital investment in support of its regeneration programme. 4.7.6 The review undertaken on areas of unused open space which the Council currently maintains will be concluded in 2009/2010 and this will assess the scope for generating capital receipt income to be redirected into its regeneration programme. 4.7.7 Where the Council is to purchase property as part of its overall capital programme or for future enhancement of its portfolio, the Asset Management Plan will be considered in determining the timing of the purchase taking account of the requirements to achieve the capital programme. 4.7.8 Where opportunities arise for the acquisition of properties which are in line with the Council’s overall priorities, the capital programme and asset disposal programme will be reviewed. General reserves will be considered for use as long as they remain within the limits approved and the acquisition is important to the Council achieving its approved priorities. 4.7.9 The impact on the Council’s commercial, industrial and retail rental income will be assessed within the Asset Management Plan. 4.8 Reduced Income from Council Fees and Charges 4.8.1 A consequence of the economic slow-down during 2008/2009 was a reduction in the income from fees and charges as demand falls and through the car parking concessions within Mansfield town centre. This trend is expected to continue during 2009/2010. 4.8.2 The impact will be reduced by the requirement for service areas affected to review the related income and expenditure and to provide proposals for limiting or redressing the fall. The aim is to maintain the same margin of surplus or subsidy of the service concerned. 4.8.3 This will be achieved through a review of fee and charge generating services, the production of charging strategies and a full analysis of the costs involved. 4.8.4 The longer term strategy is to increase margins of surplus and reduce the level of subsidy making use of concessions to achieve the Council’s policies. 4.8.5 This review is to be undertaken by the Finance and Revenue Services department, service managers and the Business Transformation Unit. 4.9 Interest Rates 4.9.1 The Bank of England Base rate currently stands at 0.5%. This was significantly reduced to help stimulate the economy. Whilst the recession continues, there will be little incentive to increase it and although forecasts for rates differ between experts, there is an expectation that they will remain at the current level until June 2010 with a steady increase up to 4.25% by December 2011. This is a quarter later than was forecasted for the 2009/2010 revenue budgets and the impact on investment income will be assessed and the Treasury Management Strategy amended accordingly. 4.9.2 The major impact at present on investment income is the limited number of financial institutions now meeting the Council’s credit criteria, the low rates offered by the Government’s Debt Management Account requiring that a further £200,000 be identified to meet the shortfall. Options including debt rescheduling are being explored and widening the range of financial instruments used. 4.10 Pay and Grading Review 4.10.1 The Pay and Grading review will have a significant impact on future years’ budgets and the cost of services provided. It has been identified as one of the Council’s Strategic Risks. 4.10.2 The base budget includes £600,000 which will be subject to the assumed pay inflation of 2.5% per annum. 4.10.3 The Council will therefore need to identify resources for this of between £15,000 and £60,000 over the period of this Strategy. The earmarked reserve for the pay and grading review stood at £1.420million as at 31 March 2009, a further £600,000 will be added in 2009/2010. 4.10.4 At this stage it is hoped to implement the findings of the review during 2010, although no specific date can yet be set. 4.10.5 In addition, there will be additional cost to some services which are already identified as having a high relative cost. Once the review has been completed, all costs will be separately allocated to individual services. 4.11 Equal Pay 4.11.1 The Council is addressing its potential Equal Pay liability through the Pay and Grading Review process. This does not preclude employees or groups of employees from making a claim for equal pay. 4.11.2 As this is not a quantifiable value and the risk of a successful claim is reduced as a result of the pay and grading review no specific provision will be maintained at this time. Should any cost be necessary these will be met either by in year virement or the relevant general reserve which therefore will be maintained at an adequate level to meet any liability. 4.12 Government Grants 4.12.1 Indicative Formula Grant figures for 2010/2011 have been given (see Section 6). Although these are subject to national announcements for the purposes of this Strategy these will be assumed. 4.12.2 The national and international financial position after this period is unknown. For the purpose of this Strategy and in line with the current annual reduction in the rate of increase a NIL increase in grant for 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 will be assumed. 4.12.3 Previously ‘allocated’ Area Based Grants are known and these will be assumed to be honoured. However, future Area Based Grant will be dependent upon the amounts identified in the Local Area Agreement Delivery Plans. 4.12.4 Grant currently received in respect of Working Neighbourhoods Fund and Neighbourhood Element are being phased out and will no longer be available to finance the grants and services provided. Although an element of grant has been carried forward from 2008/2009, the Council will need to review the need for continuing these services after 2010/2011 and develop a plan for reducing these services if they are not to be continued and to identify resources elsewhere in the budget if they are. 4.13 Local Government Pension Scheme 4.13.1 As at the 31 March 2009 the projected ongoing liabilities of the Council’s element of the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund outweigh the projected income by £51million. There is a decrease of £6million for 2008 arising mainly from a reassessment of investment income, investment assets and life expectancy of members of the scheme. 4.13.2 This is an actuarial assessment over which the Council has no control; however, this increased liability will impact on the Council’s employer’s contribution to the scheme. 4.13.3 The impact is that Mansfield District Council’s employer’s target contribution will increase to 21.6%. This is currently taken account of in the base budget. 5. COUNCIL TAX STRATEGY 5.1 The Council has striven to reduce its element of Council Tax resulting in a NIL increase for 2007/08. In 2008/09 and 2009/2010 a 3% increase was approved. The current Medium Term Financial Strategy allows for a 3% increase in 2010/2011, 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. 5.2 The Council will set its Council Tax increase below the Government’s capping level, which for the purpose of this Strategy is assumed at 5%. 5.3 Council Tax increases in the following years will be assessed on the economic position at that time; for the purposes of this Strategy an increase of 3% will continue to be assumed. 5.4 Council Tax Base In calculating the amount charged the Strategy has taken into account an increase in the Council Tax Base of 1% per year. Indications of the 2010/2011 base are that the base will not increase from that shown in 2009/2010. This reduced level of growth takes account of the economic slowdown particularly in the housing market, in subsequent years the increase of 1% is assumed as the economy begins its recovery. 6 CURRENT AND PROJECTED FINANCIAL POSITION 6.1.1 General Fund Corporate Plan 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 Priority Latest Projected Projected Projected Projected Approved Budget Budget Budget Budget Budget £000 £000 £000 £000 £000 Ensure effective leadership and management Base 3,888 4,527 3,814 4,113 4,586 Revitalise our district, town centres and neighbourhoods Base 3,330 2,694 2,712 2,881 2,994 Develop a high quality, clean and green environment Base 7,541 7,573 7,908 8,115 8,463 Reduce crime and disorder Base 1,327 1,399 1,429 1,485 1,522 Ensure Decent Homes for All Base 1,447 1,480 1,512 1,572 1,600 Current Base 17,533 17,673 17,375 18,166 19,165 Reduction in -346 -596 -647 -647 -647 Employee Budgets Amendment to 0 -369 -602 -602 -602 inflation Changes to base: Leisure Transfer 0 200 0 0 0 Option Head of Planning 0 74 78 80 82 Land Search 0 173 182 186 190 Income Fees and Charges 0 700 350 0 0 Capital Programme See paragraph 6.1.6 Service Developments See paragraph 6.1.6 Projected budget 17,187 17,955 16786 17,183 18,188 Financed from: Government Grant -10,315 -10,366 -10,400 -10,400 -10,400 Council Tax -5,675 -5,904 -6,142 -6,390 -6,647 Collection Fund -100 -100 -100 -50 -50 Surplus Appropriations -1,443 -803 274 226 0 Projected Base -346 682 368 569 1,091 Budget – Deficit / (surplus) 6.1.1 The table above sets out the projected financial position for the General Fund based on the 2009/2010 budget report together with the effects of the significant items identified. 6.1.2 This shows that, in order to provide a balanced and sustainable General Fund revenue budget for 2010/2011, the Council must find savings and efficiencies of £682,000 through those actions shown. For 2011/2012 onwards the deficit increases to £1.091million by 2013/2014. 6.1.3 Budgets approved in principle for 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 have been adjusted for a reduction in both general inflation due to the lower Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Retail Price Index (RPI) compared to one year ago, and also the pay award which is currently being negotiated at levels below that which were assumed during the 2009/2010 budget process. These represent year on year savings to the Council. 6.1.4 Current forecasts for fees and charges suggest that income levels will be about £700,000 lower than budgeted for, for the current financial year. The main areas of concern include: Car parking income Leisure income Planning income Commercial, retail and industrial property rental income Assumptions made within the Medium Term Financial Strategy, based on the predictions as to the recovery of the economy, are that there is potential for income levels to remain low in the next financial year (2010/2011), and beginning to recover from 2011/2012. If nothing is done to mitigate the impact on the Council from reduced levels of income, it is predicted that additional budget pressures will exist in 2010/2011 of £750,000 and in 2011/2012 of £350,000.The impact of this on the 2010/2011 budget will be assessed as the budget develops and the Strategy will be updated accordingly. 6.1.5 Changes have also been made to the budgets approved in principle, for the Leisure Transfer Option which has been delayed by one year (meaning that savings will not accrue until 20012/2013) and the establishment of the Head of Planning post. In addition, there is currently a legal challenge around whether Local Authorities can charge for carrying out Land Search requests, as there is potential for some information to fall within the scope of Environmental Information requests. If the legal challenge is successful, then the Council will no longer be able to charge for this service. 6.1.6 The above projection does not take into account potential proposals for service developments or the impact of the capital programme which is currently being prepared. 6.2 Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Service 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 Latest Projected Projected Projected Projected Approved Budget Budget Budget Budget Budget £000 £000 £000 £000 £000 Housing Repairs 6,002 6,150 6,314 6,465 6,600 Housing Management 1,686 1,698 1,738 1,775 1,850 District Heating 0 0 0 0 0 Care of the Elderly 817 851 885 942 1000 Homeless Service 93 105 116 125 135 Grounds Maintenance 230 241 252 253 260 Allocations / Move- 381 393 406 415 420 ahead Tenancy Support -41 -37 -35 -37 -40 Housing Strategy 307 318 327 334 340 Anti-social Behaviour 43 44 46 47 50 Team / Neighbourhood Warden Debt Recovery 49 52 52 53 55 Wardens 1,339 1,386 1,429 1,464 1,500 Other non service 9,019 8,962 8,958 8,959 9,000 specific expenditure Housing Income -19,925 -20,155 -20,482 -20,853 -21,200 Current Base 0 8 6 -58 -30 Reduction in employee -59 -102 -110 -110 -110 budgets Amendment to inflation 0 -92 -56 -56 -56 Amendment to subsidy 0 174 220 0 0 payment Revenue Contribution to 59 12 0 224 196 Capital Capital Programme See paragraph 6.2.5 Service Developments See paragraph 6.2.5 Projected Base Budget – 0 0 60 0 0 Deficit / (surplus) Other non service specific expenditure has been detailed below: Other non service 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 2013/2014 specific expenditure Latest Projected Projected Projected Projected Approved Budget Budget Budget Budget Budget Estimated £000 £000 £000 £000 £000 Revenue Contribution to 2,189 2,219 2,219 2,219 2,250 Capital – Decent Homes Provision for bad and 200 200 200 200 200 doubtful debts Proportion of 2,546 2,434 2,406 2,407 2,400 outstanding loan interest and debt management cost allocated to HRA Depreciation on housing 4,078 4,088 4,112 4,112 4,130 stock and operational buildings Contribution to Pay and 100 100 100 100 100 Grading reserve / towards cost when implemented Internal support service 21 21 21 21 20 charges Reduction in interest -15 0 0 0 0 payments due to restructure of outstanding loans in previous years. Reduced expenditure -100 -100 -100 -100 -100 anticipated from Housing Management Restructure 9,019 8,962 8,958 8,959 9,000 6.2.1 The tables above sets out the projected financial position for the Housing Revenue Account based on the 2009/2010 budget report together with the effects of the significant items identified. 6.2.2 Budgets approved in principle for 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 have been adjusted for a reduction in both general inflation due to the lower Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Retail Price Index (RPI) compared to one year ago, and also the pay award which is currently being negotiated at levels below that which were assumed during the 2009/2010 budget process. These represent year on year savings to the Council. 6.2.3 Amendments have been made to the budgets approved in principle for 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 for subsidy payments to Government in respect of income collected from council dwelling rents. This amendment is based on changes to the consolidated rate of interest which forms part of the formulae for calculating the subsidy liability. 6.2.4 Taking the above into consideration, the Housing Revenue Account is expected to balance in 2010/2011, 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 with contributions being made to capital to support the Decent Homes Programme. A deficit position is expected in 2012/2013 of £60,000 for which savings will need to be identified. 6.2.5 The above projection does not take into account potential proposals for service developments or the impact of the capital programme which is currently being prepared. 7 REVENUE AND CAPITAL RESERVES 7.1 The uncommitted General Fund and Housing Revenue Account reserves stand at: General Fund £4.3million HRA £2.6million 7.2 Following an assessment of the risks involved and the potential requirement to meet liabilities it has been determined that the General Fund Reserve should have a target level of £4million in 2010/2011 with a minimum of £3.75million. This is a significant increase in the minimum level of balances for the following reasons: 7.2.1 The economic recovery, though expected during 2010 may be quick, may be prolonged or may have recovery followed by further downturns. Experts are uncertain. This therefore adds significant uncertainty in respect of inflation, interest rates and demand for services affecting fees and charges income and the level of service required to be provided. 7.2.2 The Council may wish to introduce initiatives to help stimulate the local economy as it did in relation to car parking charges in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. Retaining higher reserves provides the ability to take swift action. 7.2.3 The 2009/2010 revenue budgets identified a number of substantial ongoing savings. These are expected to be delivered during 2009/2010 however some of the significant ones are not yet concluded and the £200,000 anticipated from the Leisure review in 2010/2011 will not now be achieved until 2011/2012. If these are not implemented, reserves may be required to provide replacement funding which will reduce the amount available towards meeting the economic and regeneration priorities. 7.2.4 The Council is aiming to implement the results of the pay and grading review during 2010, however this does not preclude employees from making an equal pay claim against the Council which if successful could have a significant financial impact and therefore adequate general reserves are necessary to minimise the impact on services. 7.2.5 The grant anticipated from the government for 2010/2011 will be dependent upon the national financial position and the priorities of the political party in power after the general election. Indications are that reductions or severe limits on public spending will be required and therefore the level of grant may be reduced. 7.3 Housing Revenue Account Reserve 7.3.1 The HRA reserve will maintain a minimum level of £1.75million reaching £2million by 2012/13 in order to provide support to the current Decent Homes capital programme as income from land sales and the sale of Council dwellings falls in the current economic climate. 8 CAPITAL PROGRAMME 8.1 The capital programme for 2009/2010 has been approved and is currently being reviewed in light of the economic climate and the review of the Council’s Corporate Plan. The Medium Term Financial Strategy is to identify the optimal method of financing additional proposals coming from feasibility studies currently being carried out in relation to the former Queen’s Head Building, Mansfield Town Hall, joint Housing Works and Highways Depot. 9. EFFECTIVENESS OF MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY 9.1 It is important to assess the effectiveness of the Strategy. This has been judged in relation to the accuracy of its projections and whether this has helped the Council to meet the aims set out within it. 9.2 The 2009/2010 document identified the significant issues which would impact on the Council, residents and businesses and these are still relevant in the coming months however, it made projections in relation to inflation and interest rates based on the position at that time and the advice from specialist sources. These projections did not envisage the rapid decline of the economy following the collapse of major financial institutions and the unprecedented actions taken by governments across the world in supporting these institutions and stimulating economies by rapid reductions in interest rates. This situation was rectified in the actual detailed budget reports where account was taken of the new situation and actions taken which involved the re-allocation of the Council’s resources. 9.3 The Strategy itself set six main themes as are restated in section 4.1. Limit the impact on business Limit the impact on residents Limit the impact on the Council Prepare for business opportunities and show confidence for the future Prepare and support residents for employment opportunities Prepare the Council for the longer term 9.4 The Strategy was implemented through the General Fund and HRA revenue budgets and the capital programme which identified a number of measures: Christmas and New Year reductions in car parking charges to attract people into Mansfield town centre New Year reduction in market stall rents to help stall-holders and stimulate the market Reducing the time taken to pay invoices to less than 10 days Procuring locally where possible by helping local firms to do business with the Council Providing incentives for encouraging new and retaining commercial, retail and industrial tenancies by providing rent free periods for start up businesses and cash flow arrangements for current tenancies if needed Use Small Business Rate Relief more proactively Use the General Fund Reserve to pay for free car parking at times of low demand to help attract people into the town centre Promoting the availability of the Business Advice service Assessing debt collection policies and practices for those unable to pay Speeding up Housing Benefit processing and payments Promoting availability of the Money Advice services for individuals Ensuring that the Homelessness service is able to deal with potential increase in demand Looking at how to improve affordable warmth through measures like insulation grants to help with fuel bills Publicising the help which is available from the Council’s Getting into Work team Looking at how the Government Homes package can help locally 9.5 These measures have been implemented and monitored throughout the year and have shown to increase footfall in the town centre and has resulted in a significant increase in housing benefit applications resulting in significant sums being redirected to the economy. 9.6 A review of the actions required from the 2009/2010 Medium Term Financial Strategy shows that all actions have been completed or are in progress which ensured that budget managers, employees and elected members were all aware of the contents of the document which resulted in savings and efficiencies being made and the Council achieving its objective of a balance budget and adequate levels of reserves. 9. RISK ASSESSMENT Risk Risk Assessment Risk Risk Management Level Financial Assumptions The impact of High The latest figures and regarding inflation inaccurate projections by financial and interest rates assumptions is and economic are not accurate significant and the institutions and current economic specialist Treasury situation makes such Management assessments difficult consultants will form the basis of the projections made Assumptions The current High Market conditions will regarding the economic climate in be monitored and ability to generate respect of land reported on by the capital receipts values and the General Practice are inaccurate confidence of Surveyor and the potential purchasers Asset Management to commit funds to Plan will set out the development means strategy in respect of that the level and disposals. timing of capital receipts is uncertain The Council is The Council will Medium Monitoring and unable to identify need to find management of the and implement substantial review process will be the required level reductions in put in place to identify of efficiency and expenditure or potential shortfalls savings additional income to from efficiency target, produce and base budget review or maintain a balanced the cross cutting and sustainable reviews. budget over the coming years. The Business However, this is not Transformation a new situation and it process is underway has achieved and has a timetable significant levels in for delivery which is the past monitored through the steering group and by senior managers Reputation This strategy will This strategy is Medium In order to not help the ambitious in the way communicate the Council to it sets out how the ambitious nature of achieve its Council will deliver the strategy and the priorities and its equally ambitious Council’s plans, the those of its priorities and there Council’s partners are many external communication factors which will strategy will provide affect the Council’s information and ability to achieve this explanation to over which it has no residents, community or little control groups, businesses and employees In order to deliver those things over which the Council has control / influence an Action Plan will be produced which sets out the tasks, responsibilities and timescales required. This will be monitored and managed by the Portfolio Holder for Resources together with the Council’s Corporate Management Team Legal The Strategy will Local authorities Low The Monitoring Officer require the have a wide range of and S151 Officer will Council to powers which can be be involved in the operate outside used for the benefit budget setting and its statutory and well being of management process powers their areas. The throughout Council will use these powers to achieve this. The Council is advised by the Head of Legal and Member Services in respect of these powers in the role of Monitoring Officer and the Head of Financial Services (S151 Officer) in respect of setting illegal budgets and adequacy of reserves Employees The Strategy The Council’s High The Council will set up identifies a employees are regular briefings with requirement for currently going Union representatives substantial through significant and regular updates efficiency and changes in respect through the Insider, budget savings. It of the pay and Team meetings and includes a review grading review and will set up meetings of employees and business for specific issues. vacancy levels transformation. which may de- Inflation affects Employees will be motivate employees and asked for their ideas employees at a families and the and suggestions for time when their below inflation pay improving efficiency contribution to offer, recent and making savings resolving the industrial action and which will be included situation is vital uncertainty adds in the budget setting further to the service process cuts and additional workload which may be perceived from this Strategy 10. SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENTS Social The Strategy is designed to limit the impact of the current economic conditions on the residents and businesses of the district in order to reduce the potential for anti – social behaviour, crime and welfare issues. At the same time, the Strategy aims to support the Council’s revitalisation priority by identifying ways in which to fund the regeneration of communities Environmental The Council is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and identifying more efficient ways of energy usage. The Strategy also aims to meet the need for reducing consumption to reduce the cost of energy and fuel usage, and to re- direct these resources directly into service provision Equalities As the Council has demonstrated, equality is an important value which it aims to achieve in all it services, strategies and policies. This strategy helps those disadvantaged by the current economic situation, which tends to be the vulnerable within the community. The promotion of money advice and benefits entitlement is particularly aimed at reducing inequality during this difficult period.