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Cost control measures

Information to help with the practicalities of putting into place the organisational cost control measures introduced on 13 September 2023.


Like many other councils across the country, Derbyshire is facing a significant financial challenge this year – we're forecasting a budget gap of £34.1 million in delivering the 2023 to 2024 budget.

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.

You’ll know that many other local authorities are facing similar situations, so this is not just a Derbyshire issue.

We're asking all departments to take a series of steps to control costs and stop any non-essential spend.

The information that follows provides some further guidance on particular areas, but everyone has a role to play in ensuring that only essential spend is incurred, regardless of whether it's in one of the categories below.

When making spend decisions and approving expenditure, everyone should be asking whether the spend is essential: Does it need to be incurred now or can it be delayed? Can the scope be limited or reduced?

From Thursday 14 September 2023 until further notice the following cost control measures will come into effect.

Recruitment and exceptional resource requests

A temporary recruitment freeze came into effect from Thursday 14 September 2023. This includes:

  • recruitment to vacant established and fixed term positions
  • creating new or additional established or fixed term positions
  • recruiting for maternity or sickness cover
  • extending fixed term contracts
  • increasing working hours temporarily or permanently
  • moving hours between positions or splitting positions
  • regrading positions
  • converting fixed term positions or employees to permanent
  • secondment and acting up arrangements

Exceptional resource request applications should only be made by leaders and managers in exceptional circumstances after prior discussion and agreement to submit from the relevant assistant director or director.

Make an exceptional resource request application

Exceptional resourcing requests will then go to the relevant director and executive director for a decision on whether to authorise the request or not, prior to review by the workforce spend governance group.

Exemptions agreed for recruiting to certain categories of jobs have been communicated to managers.

Agency resource

It should be noted that agency usage should only be used after all other revenue options have been exhausted, for example, additional hours, casual staff, overtime, or Resources@Derbyshire.

Any use of agency resource needs to be authorised by the relevant assistant director.

Please see further guidance on agency workers.

Comensura

From Monday 25 September 2023, the authorisation process embedded within Comensura’s CNET system has been amended. To obtain authorisation for Comensura use, managers should log in to Comensura.

The order will progress through the automated workflow for the assistant director to approve. Once approved, the order will be actioned by Comensura and the hiring manager will be contacted in the usual way.

Non-Comensura agency

Any use of agency resource needs to be authorised by the relevant assistant director.

All agency expenditure will be closely monitored, and additional system controls may be implemented to ensure assistant director or director approval.

There will be some purchase order control measures which will be communicated shortly.

Overtime, additional hours, and allowances

Leaders and managers should seek to reduce overtime, additional hours and allowances spend for the remainder of the financial year.

Overtime, additional hours, and allowances must be authorised by an assistant director prior to being worked and claimed for.

Details regarding overtime and allowances can be found in the Working for Us booklet in Section 3.

Please use the management information provided to directors and assistant directors to help identify how you will reduce costs in your area for the rest of the financial year.

Travel claims

All employees should cease all non-essential business travel for the remainder of the financial year.

All business travel must be approved in advance by the employee’s line manager.

Further guidance can be found in the travel policy and in the Working for Us Booklet in Section 2.

Please use the management information provided to directors and assistant directors to help identify how you will reduce costs in your area for the rest of the financial year.

Conferences, meetings, and training

Any conference, meeting and training expenditure must be authorised by the relevant assistant director in advance.

All conference, meeting and training expenditure will be closely monitored, and additional system controls may be implemented to ensure assistant director or director approval.

Repairs and maintenance

Spending on property should be limited to health and safety requirements only. Any repairs and maintenance expenditure must be authorised by the relevant assistant director in advance.

Repairs and maintenance expenditure will be closely monitored, and additional system controls may be implemented to ensure assistant director or director approval.

Other supplies and services

This includes equipment, printing, and stationery.

All spending should be limited to essential requirements only and any other expenditure not related to direct essential service provision must be authorised by the relevant assistant director in advance.

Procurement business cases and supplier price increases

When making spend decisions and approving expenditure, everyone should be asking whether the spend is essential. Does it need to be incurred now or can it be delayed? Can the scope be limited or reduced?

In order to support departmental spend decisions we are asking that all procurement business cases undergo a financial review / approval before being progressed to County Procurement and Legal and Democratic Services.

You do not need to do anything differently when submitting your procurement business cases. The submission process will remain the same, please see the procurement business cases guidance. The automated review system has been updated and procurement business cases will now be reviewed in the following order:

Corporate Finance - County Procurement - Legal and Democratic Services (where applicable) - assistant or executive director (no delegation below assistant director will now be permissible).

In addition to the above changes, it is now mandatory that any requests for price increases received from a supplier are reviewed via the Procurement (Protocol 9) Business Case process. See further price increases information.

These will be reviewed by Corporate Finance in the first instance and then by the Procurement Compliance Team and then Legal and Democratic Services (where applicable).

An additional business case template has been created specifically for price increase reviews and can be found on our procurement business cases guidance.

These changes have been approved by our Corporate Management Team and will apply immediately.

Purchasing - orders and invoices processed through SAP

We have now implemented a revised purchasing process which introduces additional controls with greater opportunity to challenge and approve spend at more senior levels before it's committed against budgets. This applies to all orders approved by the OrderPoint system.

We accept the process may cause some disruption initially, but it'll ensure spend is challenged which will ultimately contribute to a reduction in costs.

The key change is that a requisition form must be completed and approved before any purchase order can be raised, with all orders requiring financial approval at assistant director level or equivalent before being sent to a supplier.

Those colleagues directly impacted by the new process will have received an email with more detailed information including links to the automated requisition form.

If you need any additional help and support with this new process, please email cpst@derbyshire.gov.uk

This is not an exhaustive list. We’re a very large and complex organisation and we can’t draw up rules for every single scenario – and nor would we wish to. We’re asking everyone to embrace your role in this whole-council effort by questioning every area of spend regardless of whether it falls into the categories outlined above.

Help and support

Please contact your usual Finance, Procurement and HR partners if you need further advice:

Adult Social Care and Health

  • Senior finance business partner: Debra Burton
  • Senior HR business partner: Allison Beckett
  • Principal procurement lead: Chris Stone

Children’s Services

  • Senior finance business partner: Shelley Kerslake
  • Senior HR business partner: Annabel Byrom
  • Principal procurement lead: Chris Stone

Place

  • Senior finance business partner: Emma Hickman
  • Senior HR business partner: Rebecca Mcdermott
  • Principal procurement lead: Phil Mulchinock

CST

  • Senior finance business partner: Claire Howells
  • Senior HR business partner: Rebecca Mcdermott
  • Principal procurement lead: Stuart Etchells

For contract management and commercial compliance queries, please contact Maureen Eastgate.