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Powys County Council to spend £300k for ‘reimagining review’

A ROOT and branch review of Powys County Council services can begin now that money has been allocated for staff to design the changes that are needed.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Tuesday February 7, councillors were given an update on the 2022/2023 budget as it stood at the end of December.

Councillors were also asked to agree a virement of £300,000 for a “reimagining review.”

The money which will be moved from the Covid Recovery Reserve will fund a trio of council officers for two years to work on the project.
The triumvirate will need to “establish the type volume of services” the council can deliver for residents.

This is so that the council get on a stronger footing in the hope it can move away from the annual need to deliver millions of pounds worth of service cuts.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr David Thomas said: “It is the forward planning for this challenge that requires a completely different approach, and we must prepare now to deliver sustainable change by 2025.

Cllr David Thomas

“Hopefully if reimagining Powys is a success we’ll have less savings to deliver.”

Head of finance, Jane Thomas said: “Reimagining the council is going to be a huge task.

“This will be a wholescale review of the of the council and everybody will need to play a part.

“It will be a complete look of what we deliver, where and how we deliver it and that is a fundamental change in terms of our approach to the budget.

“It’s going to be a very significant project and a critical piece of work.

Director of corporate services, Emma Palmer said: “It’s important we get that buy in early on and establish how we engage more broadly with other stakeholders, our citizens and the role of our members in doing that to bring those views forward.”

Emma Palmer

“I think we need to re-set the expectations and almost that psychological contract between us and the population we serve – it’s very exciting.”

Deputy council leader, Cllr Matthew Dorrance said: “It is really pleasing to see us start to shift resources to enable delivery on this.

Cllr Matthew Dorrance

“If we are going to be able continue to deliver services close to the people than we fundamentally need to rethink how we do it.

“It’s only by aligning resources and people to deliver on our priorities will we be able to follow that through in any meaningful way.”

Earlier, Cllr Thomas had gone through the 2022/2023 budget financial forecast as it stood on December 31, 2022.

He explained that the need to cover higher than expected nationally agreed pay awards for staff had not been calculated for, when the budget had been set last year.

At the end of September 2022, the council expected a deficit of £7.1 million on its revenue budget of £302 million.

Cllr Thomas said: “The revised projected position has reduced the deficit to £2.4 million but this is after the drawdown of the pay roll reserve of £1.2 million but before the use of £3.3 million from specific reserves.”

This juggling of money between accounts sees the council predict an underspend of £1 million which will be transferred to the specific capital financing reserve.

Cabinet noted the budget position and agreed the money transfers.