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Nottingham City Council to spend up to £23,000 a month on new finance deputy

todayJune 13, 2022 1

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Labour-run Nottingham City Council will be spending up to £215,000 on a ‘critical’ role to help pull the authority out of its web of financial difficulties. The contractor comes as yet another costly addition to the council’s workforce as its struggle to retain staff continues.

The council has been spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on various roles as part of its legal duty to balance its books and become financially stable following the demise of Robin Hood Energy. The critical roles bring in the expertise the authority does not currently have due to staffing issues and the fact it is not yet permanently employing such roles due to an ongoing senior management review.

The latest spend, which roughly equates to more than £23,000 per month until March 31 next year, will go towards the employment of an interim strategic finance lead and deputy 151 officer. Such a role ensures high standards of professional practice within the council while all legal duties are met on behalf of taxpayers.

The original post holder, from contractor Penna, left their role in March this year and the council has been left without a designated deputy officer. The council is required to fill the role.

Read more: Fears over ‘astronomical’ energy bills in Nottingham ahead of energy price cap rise in October

The council says: “This back-fill adds critical capacity to the finance function, enabling and supporting delivery against the council’s objectives this financial year, including statutory deputy Section 151 officer duties. Delivery of the council’s recovery and improvement plan will require the council to have experienced financial leadership that can help transform the organisation and its finances, and it is critical that this continues.”

Clive Heaphy is the council’s current corporate director of finance and its section 151 officer, which the council must have by law. His responsibilities include the proper administration of the council’s financial affairs while ensuring operations abide by legal and statutory requirements.

The new role will support Mr Heaphy in his position. Mr Heaphy, while argued he is ‘worth every penny’ having discovered the multi-million pound misspend recently, has been paid £373,000 in the space of just over a year.

Additional external support has included a financial consultant costing £110,000 for five months-worth of work, as well as the interim transformation director being paid more than £1,000 per day for a 132-day stint. External support is required due to a struggle to retain and employ staff, and consultants will be training up internal staff members as part of their responsibilities to fill this skills void.

Explaining why such costly experts are being employed City Council leader and Dales ward councillor, David Mellen, added: “The Government’s non-statutory review of the council places a requirement on the council to improve, with a focus on financial and governance arrangements. We are making good progress on this, but we need external expertise at this early stage of our transformation, with changes required at pace.

“We made a request to Government for capitalisation, allowing us to borrow up to £20m against capital assets, which has helped us to create a transformation reserve. Some of this reserve money is being used to appoint external experts and set up new business support and customer service arrangements to drive the transformation activity that’s been identified is needed at the council. This does not impact on our budgets for running day to day services.”

For the latest role the council says it will be “part-funded by the medium-term financial plan budget for the permanent role (£0.088m) with the remaining balance (£0.127m) being funded as a one off from the finance resilience reserve”. Where possible the council says it will aim to find funding for the position via underspends throughout the year “to minimise the drawn down from the reserve.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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