Attention to detail – right down to the price of toilet rolls – has allowed a Calderdale council service to make millions of pounds of savings over the last half decade.
Innovative thinking over issues ranging from money and energy saving schemes to re-configuring council depots has also played a major part, with more savings targeted.
Calderdale Council’s property and asset management service is still looking to make more than £3.5 million savings – permanently.
And the service is also looking to deliver further savings from this year onwards of £30,000 from Town Hall management and £112,000 from the council’s Future Work Programme.
It all sounds a lot, but members of Calderdale Council’s Corporate Asset and Facilities Management (CAFM) Board heard the service had already made savings of between £20 million and £25 million over the previous five years.
The council’s Director of Finance, Nigel Broadbent, told councillors: “It is a significant achievement against that target and there are still a couple of months of the year left to impact on that.
“Hopefully, somewhere at the end of the year we will be very close to that target of £3.5 million.”
Officers added that the amount was also in context of a number of significant acquisitions the council had made this year, which reinforced the point.
A comprehensive review had allowed savings to be made, one of the officers said. “Part of the reason for success in savings is we have looked at every single opportunity – that includes toilet rolls.”
Sourcing supplies carefully had allowed officers to drive down the price for the council when buying, councillors heard.
Councillors scrutinised the budget further but were confident the further savings would be found.
Board chair Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said: “This budget is very, very well looked after, which is why the savings are achievable.”
The service still faces ongoing issues, meaning hard work is not about to let up.
Concerns remain the ongoing budget for repairs and maintenance of property was inadequate to meet the basic requirements attached to the council’s portfolio and these would increase as further council buildings were brought into use.
Councillors learned care had to be taken when making savings – there was a danger that short term savings on routine repairs and maintenance would just lead to increased costs in the long run.
Staff also have to keep an eye on investment returns made for the council from acquisition of commercial investment properties, which are expected to achieve a net saving of £300,000 a year for the authority from 2019-20 onwards.