Council to embark on Recovery and Reset programme

Tamworth Borough Council has set out a new framework for ensuring the authority remains fit the future, while protecting vital services for the town’s residents amid the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the council’s Cabinet approved the Recovery and Reset programme at a meeting last night (October 22), representing the first step in the three-to-five year plan.

The global crisis has had a huge financial impact on councils, organisations and businesses across the country and the same is true for Tamworth Borough Council.

The crisis has placed additional strain on the authority at a time when councils were already experiencing considerable budgetary pressures.

Tamworth Borough Council has now suffered several months of lost income in a variety of areas such as the Arts & Events service, Tamworth Castle, business rates and car parking. At the same time, the council is investing more money and resources in the emergency response to Covid-19 and supporting the community, including the most vulnerable among us, through this ongoing crisis.

Yet the pandemic continues and no-one can know at this stage what the full financial impact will be, especially as local restrictions and interventions continue to be a very significant possibility.

Tamworth Borough Council’s latest financial projections identify a shortfall in the General Fund of £6.9m over five years, forecast to increase to £8m (based on the central worst case scenario around Covid) and we need to start planning for this immediately.

As a result, the council has started working on a new three-to-five-year ‘Recovery and Reset’ programme, which is designed to ensure the authority remains fit for the future, while protecting services for our residents, businesses and the most vulnerable in our community.

The programme will be split across eight project areas including; financial management and commerciality, smart working, a review of Tamworth Borough Council buildings, exploration of customer services models, economy and regeneration and local heritage – including opportunities to celebrate, nurture and protect.

Work will now begin to review each area and identify possible opportunities for savings, income generation or efficiency improvements. This will involve in-depth feasibility studies, equality and community impact assessments and the appropriate consultation with relevant partners, residents, staff, and stakeholders. No decisions are being made at this stage.

Cllr Daniel Cook, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “There’s no denying the scale of this crisis and the financial impact it is having across the country. Tamworth Borough Council, like many others, swung into immediate action to support the community. This included a range of activities such as supporting the voluntary sector to deliver food parcels, helping those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, delivering millions of pounds in grants to businesses, weekly calls to hundreds of residents, Covid-related advice and support to businesses, safely re-opening the town centre, processing thousands of additional benefit claims, suspending parking charges, helping the homeless into accommodation and communicating all the latest guidance and changes to residents.

“This is at the same time as mobilising the majority of our workforce to work from home, while protecting all frontline services such as customer services, street cleaning, housing repairs and bin collections.

“We’re still right in the thick of it and we know we’re going to be in this crisis for months to come, but we have to start planning now for how we can begin to reduce the growing deficit, otherwise we’ll be facing greater difficulties in the years to come.

“We’re just at the beginning of this process. Nothing has been decided and there are no firm options on the table yet, but we have started looking at the sort of measures that might be in the scope of the programme. This will help us to take stock and begin to identify where we can either maximise income or make savings. In many areas, this could simply be a case of accelerating plans that were already on our long-term agenda for enhancing the way we do things, such as increased digitalisation.

“As soon as we have any potential options they will be explored in depth and in consultation with the relevant partners, before any decisions are made through our usual democratic processes.”

View the full Recovery and Reset report here.