Government-appointed Commissioners, appointed to the council following its financial and other challenges, provided a second report on the Council’s progress in the three months to December 2022.
The report has now been published on the government’s website and accepted by the Council.
The written ministerial statement presented to Parliament this morning expresses concerns that there has been inadequate ownership of the situation by council leadership. However, the report reflects the position in late autumn 2022 last year when it was drafted by the lead commissioner, but leading up to and since then, the council has made a number of considerable improvements.
Some of this progress was reflected in the report itself, which noted that in the months prior to December 2022, the Council had started to recognise what needs to be done. It further noted that the December Improvement and Recovery Board was the first time that a comprehensive set of action plans linked to every Direction apart from recruitment was presented and considered. The Commissioners felt this demonstrated where individual elements of the response to the intervention were being worked on and showed it was possible for individuals to make progress and commended those involved for their efforts.
Leader of the Council, James Swindlehurst said; “We thank the Commissioners for their work within our Council and in developing this detailed report. We recognise and fully acknowledge that we have a long way ahead on our recovery journey.
"I was briefed by the Commissioners' about the contents of their report when it was sent to government in December. The new corporate Leadership team have since become embedded, and they and I have worked hard in the period since then to further drive improvement, to develop a programme of organisational change and generate significant receipts from asset sales.
“In the three months since the report was submitted, the Council has continued to work at pace and now has a complete, permanent executive team dedicated to our Council, and to leading and modelling corporate improvement. A transformation team has been formed and recently strengthened to ensure the right capability and capacity exists to drive our recovery journey.
“Furthermore, we have made significant progress in addressing our well-documented financial challenges and the financial recovery strategy has seen total asset sales of over £170m to date this financial year, with plans to raise this to over £200m by the end of the year with a further £200m of sales being targeted in 2023/24.
“In addition, very good progress has been made on balancing its previous overspend in the dedicated schools grant and in identifying sufficient proposals to balance its 2023/24 budget, among many other matters. We are also delighted to announce today that the council has today been awarded £27m of additional support from the Department of Education (DfE), which will allow the council to fund all its historic deficit in this area and which demonstrates the DfE’s confidence in the plan the Council has developed and submitted to them. (This will be subject to a separate press release).
He added: “Our financial position remains challenging. But we are all committed to Slough, our town and its residents and we will now continue to work towards financial recovery, furthering the significant progress which has already been made.
“As a council we are well aware of the journey ahead and are committed to the recovery of the council.”