FOI Request - Funding Shortfall
Despite routinely carrying out important and vital work to support their communities, local councils are facing significant funding challenges. We are carrying out a Freedom of Information request to try and ascertain the scale of the funding challenge that local councils are facing in the medium-term future. Please can you answer the following questions:
In reference to council funding as whole:
1. What is your current predicted funding gap by the end of the financial year 2023/24?
2. What is your current predicted cumulative funding gap by the end of the financial year 2024/25?
In reference to council funding and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
3. Has your council estimated the costs of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions? Yes / No / Don't know
4. How much does your council estimate reaching net zero will cost? (Please state amount and any associated timescale) £______________
5. Can your council access enough funding to be able to deliver your emission reduction ambitions? Yes / No / Don’t Know
4. The council has estimated the costs of reaching net zero for aspects that is feasible to estimate. This includes
- for the Corporate Estate to reach net zero, a financial budget of £19.3 million is required. This investment is estimated to lead to accrued financial savings of £1.3 million by 2030 with further annual energy cost savings.
- for Council Housing to reach net zero, a financial budget of £61.9 million is required. This investment is estimated to lead to accrued financial savings of £2.5 million by 2030.
- estimates of the additional finances needed to decarbonise the fleet and provide associated infrastructure are not yet available. These are difficult to estimate due to restrictions in production models of low emission vehicles and some technological solutions are yet to be developed.
- it should be noted that some of these costs will be borne by replacement of vehicles and heating systems that have reached the end of their lives while others will be included in planned upgrades of facilities. The additional resources required beyond this will still be considerable.
To achieve a position of net zero carbon emissions by 2030 will require significant capital investment. This will be subject to consideration as part of the financial planning process and will require substantial external funding. As part of the Improvement and Modernisation Plan, Council reserves have been set aside for climate change actions in 2022/23 to fund preparatory work for the additional studies in the CCS. This also incorporated one-off funding in the capital plan for 2022/23 to support initial steps. However, progressing actions from the Electric Vehicles, Buildings, and Hydrogen Strategies, and offsetting plans that are not covered by current approved plans will require additional budgetary approval through the normal process and the leveraging in of external funding.
5. We do not know if the council can access enough funding to deliver our emissions reduction ambition, so our route map to net zero highlights a number of possible options. While funding is a considerable challenge to our net-zero plans, there are technological and practical limitations that also impact on our ability to transition to net zero - including availability of technological solutions and assumptions on how these may change price in the coming decade.