Budgeting in volatile times

By Gary Fielding | 16 June 2021

Traditional council budgeting dictates that each year you inflate your budgets to reflect price increases and then look to see if there are any growth pressures and savings opportunities.

This normally involves services submitting some form of evidence as to why they believe demand is increasing and the finance team duly push back. Occasionally a more radical approach is deployed where there is a fundamental review of the entire budget and it is built up afresh. Whichever route you take, there is a presumption that you have an ability to assess the key drivers of council budgets – most notably demand levels for services and prices. This is always an exercise in judgment but we have been used to accessing demographic information and patterns over recent years to help inform those judgements. How sustainable is that approach, given we are in the middle of a transition to a post-COVID world?

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