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Local government is entering a period in which it will have to fundamentally reshape the way it works to cope with heavily reduced budgets. Radical change is beginning to happen in many service areas; but so far there has been relatively little innovation in budgeting practice itself.

This is surprising. The budget is a council’s key decision-making process, bringing officers and politicians together to decide on the best use of increasingly scarce resources. Traditional incremental budgeting can stifle innovation by preserving the status quo rather than questioning the strategic value of each pound.

Based on case studies of councils that have adopted new alternatives such as outcome and zero-based budgeting and an in depth survey with finance officers, NLGN are producing a report to assess progress across the sector and help leaders, chief executives and finance directors understand whether their council should embark on new approaches to budget setting.

During this seminar we will discuss the emerging findings of NLGN’s research into smart budgeting so far. Attendees will have the opportunity to share their experiences of budgeting in austerity, learn from the innovative practice of others and contribute to shaping the final recommendations of the report, which will be published this December.