England & Wales Finance, Personal and organisational development

Online Training: Local Government Finance Series



Every elected councillor is responsible for ensuring that their council has effective financial governance, yet local government finance is viewed by many as difficult to get to grips with. These online training sessions are designed to provide elected councillors with a thorough grounding in the key elements of local government finance and funding.  Officers new to or who need to understand local government finance will also benefit from attending.

These 4 online sessions build on the learning from the previous sessions and can be booked as a package of training, or on an individual basis.


Session 1: Local Government Finance Basics (11 November 2021: 9:30-12:30)

This introductory session explains the basics. No previous experience is required.  All jargon explained.

By the end of the session, participants will:

  • Understand the importance of good financial governance and the key role and responsibilities played by elected councillors.
  • Understand the overall national legal and policy framework affecting council finance and budgets.
  • Understand key concepts and terminology, such as capital and revenue, general fund and the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), reserves and balances.
  • Understand how local councils receive their funding.

Session 2: Understanding your Council’s Annual Financial Statements (25 November 2021: 9:30-12:00) 

NB: this seminar is case-study based. Participants will need to have access to their council’s latest published Annual Financial Statements.

By the end of the session, participants will:

  • Understand the importance of the council’s Annual Financial Statements and the various roles and responsibilities in their preparation, review and approval.
  • Have a better understanding of how to read the Financial Statements and find key financial information more efficiently.
  • Be able to better understand, engage with and review this document.

Session 3: Understanding your Council’s MTFS, Annual Budget and Budget Monitoring Reports (8 December 2021: 9:30-12:00)

NB: this session is case-study based. Participants will need to have access to their council’s latest Medium-Term Financial Strategy, Annual Budget and Budget Monitoring reports.

By the end of the session, participants will:

  • Have a detailed understanding of the financial planning and control process at their council.
  • Better understand the structure of their council’s financial planning and control reports.
  • Begin to formulate lines of questioning on key local issues and concerns highlighted through their review of these key council documents.


Session 4: Financial Planning and budgeting in the light of COVID-19 (15 December 2021: 9:30-12:00)

By the end of the session, participants will:

  • Understand the immediate and potentially ongoing financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the council’s finances
  • Understand the financial planning and control process at a typical local council.
  • Appraise and evaluate how councillors can most effectively influence budget and spending decisions.



Each session will be delivered online via 2.5- 3 hour “live” online training sessions to individual participants.

We would also be pleased to discuss how we could more specifically tailor our training to your local council’s situation and circumstances where a group of councillors from the same council would benefit from the training.




Ian Fifield, Ian is a CIPFA qualified accountant with over 20 years’ experience in designing and delivering financial management training for local authorities and other public service organisations. Ian’s training experience includes: designing training seminars for finance professionals, service managers and elected members. He has co-authored the Centre for Public Scrutiny publications On the Money, considering effective financial and budget scrutiny methods and also Treasure Your Assets, considering local government invest and borrowing activities.

Alan Waters (Cllr), Leader of the Council, Norwich City Council and Learning and Development Manager, LGIU. Alan has extensive experience in dealing with the practical political issues that face elected members around budgets. Alan has delivered a wide range of training and development programmes for the LGIU. He is a Member Peer with the Local Government Group and has been a trainer for the National Councillor Mentoring Programme.

Who should attend?

These online sessions are aimed at both new and experienced local authority members, who want to understand the basics of local government finance and financial management – and develop a grasp of the financial implications of recent changes. The series will also be relevant to local authority officers who would like to understand local government finance as part of their role or who are involved in the budget process, as well as local government partners.