We have a Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) that spans 2014 to 2016. It is a summary of where we can expect our money to come from and what we expect to spend in order to meet our priorities. It also looks at other factors that we cannot control such as the overall financial climate, cuts in our funding and any other financial barriers we may face.
West Suffolk is a partnership of two separate councils who have chosen to share staff and services in order to save money and resources. While there may be different ways of achieving our goals depending on the authority (Forest Heath District Council or St Edmundsbury Borough Council) we share many strategies and priorities. The MTFS sets out how both councils - working together - will take to manage our finances across 2014 to 2016.
Although each council has its own budget, there are many similarities in our approach to meeting the financial challenges we face and we are working together to build common strategies and to share learning from one another.
The MTFS document is split into six areas:
- National economic context: this provides an overview of the national economy and a brief summary of how government policies on borrowing and spending will affect local councils. The section also looks at what changes there have been in how councils receive funding from central government through:
- business rates retention
- local Council Tax reduction scheme
- the New Homes Bonus scheme
- the Disabled Facilities Grant
- Local context: this section provides an overview of the local economy. The struggling national economy has created financial hardship for many of our families and communities. This can lead to an increase in demand on council services from those that need help and support, on top of the cuts in our funding from central government.
- Responding to the financial challenges and opportunities: this explores how the councils are hoping to resolve the funding challenges that lie ahead through:
- joining up and continuing shared services between Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council
- transforming the way we work, this means running services more efficiently and saving money where we can - such as sharing services
- transforming the way we think and behaving 'more commercially' to ensure we, and in turn our residents, are getting best value for money
- encouraging the use of digital forms for customers - encouraging online use sits alongside being more commercial as it allows us to speak to our residents and communities efficiently and more cost effectively
- being an 'investing authority' - such as loaning money to other organisations and getting a good return on these investments as well as considering new funding models
- taking advantage of new forms of local government finance - looking at the opportunities open to us in order to generate more funding for ourselves, for example through the business rates retention scheme
- Our approach to engagement and consultation: how we communicate with you is important as it means we can understand what communities really need and want from us. This section details how we currently do this and the importance of parish and town councils in achieving this.
- Summary of our financial positions: this is an overview of how much money each council has to spend in order to provide services and maintain equipment. The section is divided into two parts, the first summarizes our revenue strategy (our plans on managing day to day expenditure). The second part looks at our capital strategy (our plans on managing money that is used for long term benefit).
- Glossary of terms: this is a helpful guide on the meanings of technical financial terms used throughout the MTFS.
You can read our current MTFS from our page: Budget and financial strategy