Savings of almost £1 million still have to be found from Calderdale Council’s asset management budget.
Members of the Corporate Asset and Facilities Management (CAFM) Asset management Board heard the directorate’s overall budget was set to overspend by £957,843 and heard action was being taken to consider how costs might be reduced to compensate for the shortfall.
The service is responsible for ensuring the council’s land and property assets are fit for purpose, deliver value for money, and support and enhance service delivery.
An officers’ report to councillors said that while further savings might be achieved in 2018-19 to reduce that overspend, it was by no means certain at this stage that potential areas identified would materialise.
Chairing the meeting, Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said it should be spelled out in advance that the directorate was having to find large savings within the year.
“It is quite extraordinary that we have to save another £3.5 million,” he said.
Of the £3.5 million savings which have to be made in 2018-19, £2.2 million had already been identified and “banked”, the report said, but that still left £957,843 of savings to be found.
Given the overall size of the CAFM budget, it was still operating effectively a balanced budget but there are some areas where costs from this year will be significantly higher than predicted, says the report.
These include the cost of prudential borrowing, the fact some costs including salaries were one-off savings last year, increased building maintenance costs, energy costs rising and the decision to save the Town Hall canteen (closing it would have saved £30,000) all impacted on the total.
There were also properties still on the council’s hands, including a range of buldings still subject to community asset transfers, for which no budget exists – together adding up to around a third of the total savings which had to be found.
Councillors discussed the financial pros and cons of asset transfers, balancing situations where the council had to keep finding funding with examples where despite some problems groups with a transferred building had been helped further because they were well-supported in their community.
Officers have identified areas where savings might be made, including a challenge to the business rating for several council properties which if successful might save in the region of £200,000 and a reduction by a similar amount of the council’s prudential borrowing costs through its Town Centre Office Strategy from 2018-19 onwards – but at this stage these were not certainties.