Robust financial management has helped Stoke-on-Trent City Council invest in major regeneration initiatives, as well as delivering £36m in savings.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet will next week (31 May) hear how, despite receiving the eighth worst financial settlement of all unitary authorities in England from the government, the council has delivered on its toughest ever programme of savings.
A report on the authority’s outturn for 2011/12 also shows that by focusing on essential spending only a £1.5m contribution to general reserves has been achieved and the repayment of temporary borrowing from earmarked reserves has been accelerated. This has enabled the city council to be in a relatively strong financial position given the severity of the challenges faced.
The report shows that the council has an annual turnover of circa £1bn – £600m in gross expenditure and £400m in gross income. The council had borrowed around £20m from earmarked reserves as a temporary measure to fund a redundancy programme to be repaid over the next five years. But prudent planning and increases in repayments means just £4.424m is outstanding, which is budgeted to be repaid in 2012/13.
The authority has also delivered major achievements during 2011/12 that are making significant improvements to the city’s infrastructure and physical environment, including:
- City Sentral bus station building work under construction, with enabling works completed, the main structure started, negotiations with key bus operators concluded and highways works associated with bus re-routing on schedule.
- Improvements to John Street multi-storey car park, including junction improvements off Potteries Way and a new entrance.
- The British Ceramics Biennial 2011, which attracted over 20,000 people into the city over six weeks, in the refurbished Spode site China Hall.
- Formal completion of the technology centre at the Centre for Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE) in Longton in December 2011.
- A successful £3.6m bid to the Homes and Communities Agency to complete the clearance of sub-standard housing in the city.
- The announcement of key anchor tenants – Marks & Spencer and Vue, plus enabling works started on site for City Sentral/East West shopping development.
- Government funding secured for 16 out of 18 Building School for the Future projects. Design and build works are on track for all schemes, with six schools due to be completed during 2012, and so far contractors have spent £65m on supply chain services, £35m of which has been spent with companies local to the city.
- Improvements to green spaces at Tunstall Park, Anchor Road and Goms Mill have been completed, with work at Turnhurst Road and Fisher Street play facilities underway.
Councillor Paul Shotton, cabinet member for finance, procurement and commissioning, said: “We have made every commitment to deliver as strong a financial position as possible, despite the massive cut in funding we received from government.
“Through strong leadership and robust financial management our collective performance in coping with this challenge has been impressive.
“We have been able to deliver positive and significant improvements to the city’s infrastructure and physical environment, and our Mandate for Change commitments are helping to create momentum and confidence that our city is a great place to live and invest in.
“We are being as sensible and pragmatic as possible, given the extremely uncertain financial future. We know that 2012/13 includes a further £20m of savings with inherent challenges. The financial settlement we will receive for 2013/14 may not be known until late 2012, and there are also many radical policy changes in the pipeline from central government. We need to prepare for this and are determined to put in place strong foundations to help plan for the uncertainties and huge challenges ahead.”