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News release

Grant Thornton and CIPFA launch new Financial Foresight model

Leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP, in collaboration with CIPFA, has developed a new Financial Foresight model to help local authorities understand and test their long-term financial sustainability.

Building on Grant Thornton and CIPFA’s successful partnership on the CFO Insights platform, now licensed to over 100 councils, Financial Foresight provides councils with a multifaceted model that can project costs and income forward to develop a robust medium and longer-term baseline financial forecast for every council in England.

In addition to demand, income, expenditure, reserve and borrowing level projections, Financial Foresight can benchmark spend between authorities, and apply socio-economic and service outcomes to understand the nature and effectiveness of spend.

Critically, Financial Foresight provides the functionality to test and appraise a range of financial strategies and scenarios, to support in multi-service strategy development. The model is supported by a Financial Strategy Accelerator workshop, led by Grant Thornton’s local government specialists and data modelling teams, that can be used to independently facilitate a transparent discussion with a council’s senior leadership team on longer term financial planning.

To mark the launch, Grant Thornton and CIPFA have released their new ‘’ report, which provides current insights and projections, based on the Foresight model, on the long-term sustainability of councils’ finances. It finds that:

  • one in three (36%) councils in England are at risk of financial failure* in the next ten years, with one in five (17%) at risk of financial failure by 2021
  • in 66% of local authorities, spending on services is outstripping income
  • based on current per capita expenditure, population growth alone could increase the costs of delivering demand-led services by £1.6 billion over the next decade.

Phillip Woolley, partner and head of public services insights and consulting, Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented:

“Almost all councils now have financial resilience challenges, driven from rising demand and falling income levels. To move forward effectively, local authority leaders need to have an in-depth understanding of their own place and be able to develop robust plans against this local context.

“Financial Foresight not only provides information on current financial trajectory, it also helps map an alternative financial path through to a sustainable longer term position. For example, assessing the financial impact over five years of increasing council tax, reducing spend on specified services and capturing a financial return from local business growth.

“Through Financial Foresight and our associated strategy workshops we can support local authorities to test and appraise a range of financial strategies and levers to develop a plan for a sustainable future.”

Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA, commented:

“Financial Foresight is a new model focused on sustainability and builds on CIPFA’s successful work with Grant Thornton on the CFO Insights platform, and our own work on the Financial Resilience Index. It provides a dynamic projection of every English council’s financial trajectory over a 20-year horizon.

“Baseline projections in Foresight underline the fragility of finances at many councils. In these uncertain times, Financial Foresight can provide significant value to local authorities in their strategic financial planning. It can be adapted and updated over the medium term and gives council leaders the means to understand where financial pressures lie and the ability to craft solutions to ensure long-term financial sustainability.

“CIPFA is delighted to be working with Grant Thornton again to provide this important and necessary resource to councils.”

Empowering councils to prepare for the future