Cuts to staff and services expected for Slough council’s financial recovery plan

Local Democracy Reporter James Bagley

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Staff and services at Slough Borough Council (SBC) are expected to be slashed over the next five years so the town can dig out of its financial hole.

A report called ‘recovery and renewal’ is due to be presented to senior councillors at a cabinet meeting on Monday, September 20.

This new strategy sets out radical changes the council will have to make in order to regain financial stability in the next five years after it effectively declared bankruptcy in July.

If this is approved by cabinet, the council’s staff and services will be reduced to the ‘right size’, meaning SBC will be smaller and, in some areas, services will be provided at the statutory minimum.

But a ‘limited’ number of services will see some investment for them to operate safely.

SBC will also adopt a ‘zero-based budget’ approach from 2023/24. This means all expenditure in different departments must be justified for each new period.

Needs and costs in every function within SBC will be analysed and reduced if needed. The report does not outline what services and staff will be slashed.

If cabinet decides to adopt this new plan, it will replace its ‘Our Futures Work programme’, which has restructured and transformed SBC and introduced operating models since 2019, to prioritise financial stability and to recover from its money troubles.

However, some ‘residual’ from the Our Futures will be incorporated in the recovery and renewal plan.

Another part of the plan includes selling off £600m worth of assets to plug its estimated £174m black hole it could face by 2025.

Steven Mair, SBC’s finance officer, previously said Slough would have to save £16m in 2021/2022, £18m in 2022/23, and £20m for the years after.

If approved, a blueprint will be made by the strategy leadership team and strategic finance board and will be put forward to full council in June 2022 for approval.

The strategy will implement these changes in phases until 2025.

Slough became the third local authority to issue a section 114 earlier this year following Croydon last year and Northamptonshire County Council in 2018.

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