North East Lincolnshire

Council to take ‘business-like’ approach on finances

A more “business-like” mindset will be adopted by North East Lincolnshire Council in an effort to balance its books.

The council will look to change its approach to its finances and services in the face of further reductions in government funding.

A report will go before the council’s executive on August 1, recommending that the authority adopts a strategy to be more self-reliant on its income.

Further proposals for the strategy will be brought before councillors next year.

The paper says that the council still has “significant financial pressures” and that it will need to change its approach in order to meet its own financial targets.

It adds that it is “heavily reliant” on central government funding and will need to become more sustainable as income from Whitehall reduces even further.

The council took the decision to raise council tax this year by 4.98% to balance its budget following cuts to local authority grants.

North East Lincolnshire Councillor David Watson.

Councillor David Watson, portfolio holder for finance, said that the council needs to take the approach to continue to deliver local services.

He said: “Since 2011, our funding from government has been cut by about £79 million and this is likely to reduce even further.

“To continue to be able to deliver the vital services that people and businesses in our area rely on, we’re having to think and operate more like a commercial enterprise.

“This approach will allow us to take decisions to make our organisation more efficient and sustainable and look to generate more of our own income whilst making the most of opportunities to sell the area to visitors and businesses looking to invest.”

Meanwhile, council officers said that the new commercial approach will help with commissioning services, find  savings and improve income for the council in the long term.

It comes as Lincolnshire County Council recently adopted a similar strategy, but said that it would not invest outside the region.

Local authorities across the county have been finding new ways of balancing their books.

Visual of the Travelodge building on Tentercroft Street in Lincoln which was bought by the cIty council in a bid to boost income.

West Lindsey District Council spent more than £2 million on a hotel in Keighley, West Yorkshire, in an effort to increase its income.

Meanwhile, City of Lincoln Council bought the Travelodge building on the city’s Tentercroft Street for £13 million.

Other councils have taken out loans in order to fund major projects.

Some authorities have joined a pilot scheme launched by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to retain business rates.

However, this will see their revenue and support grant, the main source of funding for local authorities, reduced.