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 20223-2028 (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 have a commercial asset portfolio for revenue generation purposes, not capital growth. Whilst asset values have declined, the rental income has increased through rent reviews. The quality of the tenants has meant that the council has not had any default on rental payments, since the assets were acquired. However, we have established an investment reserve, with one aim being to mitigate the risk of tenant rent default.
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.
We also have an Ethical Investment Policy (PDF) [202 KB].
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.
Find out more about how we fund our services and where we'll be spending the money in the 2023/24 council budget.