Why we need to have investments
Like other local authorities, we have had to look at new ways in which to generate income as a result of the ongoing reductions in funding we receive from central government.
In 2020, the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2020-2025 [2.12MB] identified an annual shortfall of £4.85m in the council's budget by 2024/25.
With limitations and restrictions on our ability to generate sufficient funding from sources such as Council Tax, business rates and fees and charges, we are developing a £300m portfolio of commercial property assets.
In line with our Commercial Strategy 2022-2027 (PDF) [2MB], we have acquired a number of property assets across a range of sectors (it is not investing in tenants or companies). We have done this by taking out fixed rate loans, which are then repaid from the rent paid by the tenant. Uttlesford council taxpayers do not directly fund these purchases.
We will continue to fund further investment at Chesterford Research Park, 50% of which we acquired in 2017. We will also continue to look for further opportunities for investment locally. Suitable opportunities in the area are limited which is why some investments are outside the district.
Every investment opportunity follows a due diligence and governance process. This includes consideration by an Investment Board, which has two independent members. The final decision is ultimately taken by all councillors at a meeting of Full Council.
How we spend the investment income
The income from these investments will be used to help to fund the services that we provide on a day to day basis.
We've also been able put some additional income into important initiatives. This includes £1m over three years to support the climate change agenda, £1m for Covid high street and business recovery programmes, and £450,000 over three years towards sports facilities.