England & Wales

Seminar: An Introduction to Local Government Finance


It is more important than ever that all councillors understand how the local government finance system works because there is a high degree of uncertainty around council budgets in the context of the decision to leave the EU and implications on business rates retention.

In any case whatever the factors (large and small) that will influence the funding of local government over the next few years, all elected members have a role to play in the financial affairs of the council: executive councillors have to develop and implement the budget; councillors on scrutiny committees should be reviewing the budget process and financial planning and every councillor needs to involve their residents in the political choices that have to be made about budgets and council tax. If you are going to make a difference as a councillor it is crucial that you understand finance and are confident about your role.

This seminar gives a very good grounding in how local government finance works in practice and sets the ‘basics as part of the bigger picture of current developments and longer term trends.

The seminar will also cover the emerging impact of major changes to local government finance: the current consultation about the 100% localisation of Business Rates and the expectation of councils generating local economic growth to help fund services. The impact on council budgets of welfare reform changes; the Localism Act and any fresh or recent government initiatives and announcements will also be assessed.


09:30 Registration and refreshments

10:00 Welcome and Introduction

10:10 Context – what are the issues facing local government

10:40 Back to basics: how the system works

11:40 Refreshments

11:55 Back to basics – how the system works continued…

12:40 Lunch

13:25: Council budgets: the role of elected members

14:00: ‘The Jaws of Doom’? How is your council preparing for the next 5 years?  Feedback and Discussion.

14:30 QUIZ: Testing your knowledge of the basics!

14:50 Final comments

15:00 Close




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?

The seminar is 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 seminar will also be relevant to local authority officers who are involved in the budget process, as well as local government partners.