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Recognition for council’s finance work to help community

Posted onPosted on 21st Jun

A team of council finance officers have been recognised for the role they have played in shaping and developing their communities.

Newark and Sherwood District Council has been named a finalist in three categories – place shaping, tackling COVID-19 and innovation & partnerships – in the first ever CCLA/Room 151 Impact Awards 2021.

Launched in March, the awards were designed to shine a light on the role of finance in supporting all aspects of society.

The redevelopment scheme that transformed the former Robin Hood Hotel in Newark was recognised by judges in both the place shaping and innovation & partnerships categories.

After standing derelict for more than 18 years, the council intervened in 2018 via a commitment that would finally see an end to this longstanding blight on the town centre.

Using its financial reserves, the council committed £3.3m, (being 50% of the total development costs), to complete the development, knowing that on completion a funding package would return the £3.3m back in full to the authority. Structuring the finances for the project in this manner meant that this landmark site has been returned to suitable use without any cost to the local taxpayer, with year on year revenue benefit on the letting of the commercial units.

The council’s efforts tackling Covid-19 was also recognised in a category that acknowledges the contributions council finance departments have made by way of support for both residents and businesses.

For many weeks the council was in the top 10 nationally for administering and distributing crucial business support grants. In March 2020, it freed up £7.5m of its own cash balances, prior to receiving the money from government, to respond immediately and make payments to qualifying businesses without delay.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, 6,047 grants were paid out with a total value of £42.8m, which has pumped much needed cash flow into the local economy.

Using its emergency contingency budgets, the council was also able to deliver services directly to those highly affected by the ‘stay at home’ directive. Food and medication, supply/welfare checks and advice/referrals to other means of support were rapidly established, as funding was made available immediately.

Coun David Lloyd, leader of the council, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that the hard work and dedication of our teams has been recognised in these awards. Our Finance and Revenues and Benefits officers undertake truly great work on a daily basis and especially in the last year, the speed at which they have responded is astounding.”

Peter Hugh Smith, chief executive of CCLA, said: “These entries demonstrate the real influence local government finance teams can have in shaping and developing their communities and the environment. They also reveal the broad range of issues and topics finance teams are able to tackle.

“This may be the first year of the awards but local government has embraced the spirit in which they were founded.”

The awards are hosted by Room151, an online news, opinion and resource service for local authority Section 151 and other senior officers covering treasury, strategic finance, funding, resources and risk; in partnership with CCLA, one of the UK’s largest charity fund managers.

Winners will be announced on 1st July during an online ceremony.