Ashfield council plans to spend £40m on investment outside district this year

Plans put forward by Ashfield District Council would see an additional £20 million brought forward to be spent on investment outside the district this year.

In March this year the council set out its four-year investment programme that it uses to generate additional income for its budget.

Ashfield District Council.

Ashfield District Council.

And in its proposals it set out a total of £81.251 million to be spent over the four-year period, amounting to £21,251,000 this year and £20 million for the next three years.

But under plans to be debated by full council on Thursday, September 5, councillors will decide whether to bring forward the £20 million figure from the 2022/23 financial year to be invested this year.

Along with additional funds generated by Ashfield District Council in the sale of Glenrothes, one of the council's previous investments, for £4.334 million, it would mean the authority invests £45,585,000 into the capital investment programme in this financial year.

A spokesman for the council said the changes would address the "funding gap" the council is set to experience, with councils across the country expecting funds from central government to "disappear" at the start of 2020/21.

The spokesman said: "There is significant uncertainty about the level of funding all Council’s will receive beyond 2019/20.

"We estimate the council has a £2.1m funding gap for 2020/21 and has a strategy in place to address which includes a review of services and how they are delivered, a review of contracts, delivery of efficiencies via our digital services transformation programme, and opportunities for income generation.

"Through its capital strategy approved in March this year the council has already set out its intention to, following robust due diligence, acquire investment properties which after borrowing and interest costs will still return a significant net rental income stream.

"This income will help to reduce the funding gap and help to minimise adverse impact on the front line services on which our residents and businesses rely.

"The proposal in the report is to remain at the current level of spend already approved by the council in March this year, but to provide the opportunity to accelerate the potential use of £20m by one year.

"This would be subject to suitable, robustly evaluated investment property acquisition options being available, thereby enabling earlier receipt of the net rental income stream from this investment to help mitigate the funding gap.

"The income generated by this strategy so far has helped to reduce the impact of the significant central government funding cuts, thereby helping us to protect local services."

The council document, which is due to be discussed this week, does not outline exactly where the funds will be spent.