Following recent media coverage and comments by residents, we wanted to respond to some of the concerns expressed and explain in full how and why the ground floor redevelopment is being funded.
Why are we redeveloping the Ground Floor?
The redevelopment is part of our ambitious plans to improve citizen experience by providing more public services under one roof and making better use of the space in the Council House – some of which is currently under-utilised. The project will also allow us to further develop our partnership links with other public services such as Job Centre Plus.
Other benefits to our citizens include improved security to make visits to the Council House safer, a new fully accessible meeting room and improved customer interview rooms for those who visit us to access services.
How can we justify spending this much money?
Changes to financial pressures in local government mean that we and other local authorities now have to think more commercially and efficiently. Bringing in a partner organisation like the DWP supports this vision and will also support our medium term financial planning (MTFP) to ensure we can continue to provide valued services to Derby citizens.
Any tax payer money used to progress the project will be fully recovered through rental income from the DWP over seven years and re-invested into vital public services. What this means is that in the long term there will be no cost at all to the Derby tax payer, but we need to make an initial investment for the future.
In the same way you might buy a new, more efficient boiler to cut down your energy bills in the long term to save money, we’re also investing in this project, not only to save money but also to make money.
Why aren’t we spending that money elsewhere like street cleaning?
We recently announced as part of our 50 Pledges that we’re already investing an extra £1.6 million into Streepride services.
The money for the Ground Floor Redevelopment is coming from capital funding and our reserves – or one off sources of funding such as central government grants. Unlike revenue (money we get from Council Tax and Business rates), that funding doesn’t always replenish. However, in this case, the funding we’re putting in will be recouped through rental income.
Much of our government funding is given to us for specific projects and can only be spent on those projects. For example, if we’re given a grant by the Department for transport to fix a road, we can’t then spend that money on a school.
Why are we redeveloping again when we only redeveloped a few years ago?
Although as a council we’re able to produce a three year budget and plan, we can’t always predict the future and uncertainties around our budget.
Recently, a drive to think more commercially as a Council along with the DWP’s own pressures to reduce their property portfolio has presented us with an opportunity that wasn’t there when the first redevelopment took place.