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Consultancy idea may help Wrexham Council budget plan

Published date: 20 January 2014 |
Published by: Liam Randall 
Read more articles by Liam Randall  Email reporter


 

WREXHAM Council is exploring ways to boost its income to help offset the tough budget cuts it is facing.

The authority is facing cuts of at least £45 million during the next five years.

As a result the council’s lead member for policy, finance performance and governance, Cllr Malcolm King, has set up a working group to explore income generation opportunities.

A report is due to go before members of the customers, performance and resources scrutiny committee on Wednesday, highlighting some of the authority’s ideas.

One area the council is looking at to boost income is consultancy, where it could sell its expertise to either the private sector or other local authorities.

In his report, Cllr King said: “This would not only provide an opportunity to raise income but also the opportunity to share expertise between authorities and other organisations.”

Another idea being mooted is selling advertising space on council owned buildings, vehicles and digital screens at its contact centre and in other public buildings.

Creating a social lettings agency is being considered, following the example of a number of councils such as Harrow and Plymouth, which are now offering to assist householders to access private sector rented accommodation.

Priority would be given to those in the council’s catchment area.

However, some of the ideas being pursued have been discontinued after obstacles were encountered.

Cllr King said: “Since the December meeting it has been decided that the ‘Renewable Heat Incentive Payments’ scheme will not be progressed as part of the Income Generation Working Group idea as a further and more detailed feasibility study into this needs to be undertaken.

“It has also become more apparent that the council cannot redirect child benefit or any other benefits to the prevention and social care department during the care period, thus this preliminary idea will no longer be progressed.”

One anomaly the working group discovered was a difference in charges for wheelie bins.

Currently properties built before 1998 are being charged £32 for a replacement bin compared to £54 for properties built after 1998.

After further investigation the group has decided the dual price will be retained, with the aim of reducing the gap between the two rates by gradually increasing the rise on the lower rate.

Following the group’s work managers have been asked to prepare business cases for the preliminary ideas identified.

Cllr King said: “Although the council can charge for certain services, there are still some restrictions and the council needs to be mindful not to seek to make a surplus unless there are specific powers to do so.

“The council now needs to take a longer term view of where it wishes to be with fees and charges.

“Heads of department should encourage managers to explore and exploit new ideas and new business opportunities which may be available to them.

“Diversification of services, expansion of partnership workings with a more rigorous approach to existing contracts should not be ruled out.

“Heads of departments should consider areas of service provision that they do not currently charge for.

“The Local Government Act 2003 has given local authorities the opportunity to now charge for discretionary services.

“The council is advised that it takes advantage of this piece of legislation to bring in additional income.

“Looking for additional income or generating new income streams in this age of austerity is a major feature for all councils.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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  1. Posted by: Mr.Gobbi at 14:30 on 20 January 2014 Report

    Expertise and Wrexham Council now those are two words that do not go together and following the Williams report on the reduction of local councils to 11 roll on reorganisation to get rid of the overpaid councillors and senior officers who are not worth the money they are being paid. Clwyd County Council worked these little councils that were created in 1994 have not worked right from day one.

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