Page updated February 2023
Since 2010, due to government cuts, the council has made around £205 million in savings.
We’re also one of the lowest-funded councils in the country, which means that more than many other councils, we need to look at other, creative ways to offset the very worst of the cuts we’ve had to bear.
With this in mind, and similar to what the government has done nationally, we have been able to borrow at low interest over recent years. We use money we borrow to invest in assets that support economic regeneration and service improvement, alongside providing a commercial return to the council. This prudent commercial approach also means that we have a strong reserves balance – money set aside to pay for things in future if needed - to fall back on, that we can use to help balance our budget.
Our commercial approach has led us to make investments in multiple assets, which are primarily heavily secured and most of which are ‘bricks and mortar’, like Birchwood Park. These investments are generating income, more than £25 million a year, promoting economic regeneration in the borough and also strengthening our credentials as a truly green council – through projects like our pioneering solar farm investments.
Balancing the risks
We simply don’t receive enough funding to pay for services that people in our town deserve and need, especially our most vulnerable people, without making these investments.
All of our investments are, however, subject to meticulous due diligence and external expertise and we make each separate investment decision very carefully. They are monitored on an ongoing basis and their performance reported to elected members on a quarterly basis. Whilst we are aware that any investment we make isn’t risk free, we remain confident in our overall approach and always work to mitigate any exposures we have in investments in case things don’t go to plan.