I am writing to let you know about a report that Cabinet will be considering next week, which sets out some serious financial issues for the council.
We have a £46 million gap in this year's budget, which we must fix before the end of the financial year in March next year. You will all be aware of the effects of rising prices and increased demand on many of our services which have driven our costs, both in terms of expenditure and in terms of demand for our services.
We have in the past used reserves to bridge overspends and under-achieved savings but this is not a sustainable solution and the size of the in-year challenge means that we need to take decisive action to control our costs this year.
Many other local authorities are facing similar situations, so this is not just a Derbyshire issue.
We all need to stop spending on anything that is non-essential so we can continue to deliver vital services for local people. I know we've all been making savings for many years, but now we need to look even deeper and harder at what we can save.
I'm sure that across all our services you will have some ideas for your own areas and would encourage you to talk to your line managers.
Here is an outline of the immediate measures we will be expecting all our services to implement:
- stopping any non-essential spend
- with immediate effect, there is a recruitment freeze across the council. We will continue to recruit to all roles that have been offered and recruitment interviews planned up to and including Monday 25 September 2023, but any other live recruitment activity will be paused. Detailed guidance will shortly be issued by HR colleagues
- departments will undertake an urgent review of external agency staffing costs
- projects to commission consultants should be suspended if not business-critical
- spending on our property will be limited to health and safety requirements
- senior leaders will be required to delay new contracts where not business-critical
- delaying new non-essential projects
- limiting expenditure on equipment, supplies and services to essential items. This includes ICT expenditure
- limiting the spend on employee travel and training
No matter what your role is, your contribution to cutting our costs is absolutely vital. Please consider everything that your service does to see what you can do to reduce expenditure even further and speak to your line manager.
I realise this is a difficult message for you all to read but I know that you will all rise to the challenge that we are facing. I am confident that by working together we can overcome these serious financial issues to support our overall budget position.
We will keep you informed of the situation and more detailed guidance on spending controls will be published on Our Derbyshire shortly.
Thank you in advance for your support
Emma Alexander, Managing Director