East of England Annual Finance Summit

12th July 2019

Last month the East of England LGA hosted our annual finance summit, drawing in officers and elected members to consider the host of financial challenges that local government face in the coming years and to hear about the innovative approached being explored to meet such challenges.

The event allowed local authorities in the East of England to explore how councils have so-far faced the challenge of remaining financially robust and heard from specialists on good practice examples, as well as what more councils can do to survive and thrive in the ever changing world of local government.

The day kicked off with a presentation from Rosie Pearson, Local Partnerships and Karl Harder, Founder and Managing Director of Abundance discussing Crowdfunding and how it is a viable alternative for public sector financing. The accompanying report which details the work done in three pilot authorities can be downloaded from the Local Partnerships web-site at http://localpartnerships.org.uk/our-resources/

It is likely that Local Partnerships will be seeking further pilots over the coming months; please contact Rosie Pearson Rosie.Pearson@local.gov.uk if this might be interest to your authority.

In an acknowledgement to the challenges facing the sector, Stuart Hoggan, Deputy Director at MHCLG and Joanne Pitt, Local Government Policy Manager at CIPFA gave complementary but contrasting talks on the future challenge of remaining financially resilient. The ongoing review of relative needs and resources across the sector, led by MHCLG, will greatly affect the availability, distribution and certainty of any future funding for local government. EELGA’s Regional Finance Director Network will continue to monitor this process closely and respond to future consultations as and when they arise. The challenge for CIPFA of trying to assess the financial resilience of an authority against the current backdrop of uncertainty and the increasingly innovative and creative use of local authority resources, such as to support commercial ventures, was much discussed. Local authorities will continue to seek such innovation and the hope from delegates at the summit was that the Institute will be supportive of authorities who have taken such commercial risks where these are supported by evidence of sound governance and risk management.

Cllr Dick Madden from Essex County Council, closed the summit with a brilliant and inspirational talk on how Essex CC, working together in partnership with councils across the East of England, had turned around their struggling Children’s Services, controlling escalating costs and delivering better outcomes from a mixture of early intervention and investment in preventative services. A fantastic and motivational example of a Council using an innovative approach to tackle a severe funding challenge, helped and supported by working in collaboration with their partners in Essex and with like-minded colleagues across the region.

Presentations from this event can be downloaded from the Event web-page:
https://www.eelga.gov.uk/events/east_of_england_annual_finance_summit_2019/

The next scheduled meeting of our East of England Finance Directors is on Friday 11th October. Please contact either Eddie Gibson (eddie.gibson@eelga.gov.uk) or Annie Richardson (annie.richardson@eelga.gov.uk) for more information about this network.

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