THE government has told Eastbourne Borough Council it must sort its finances out.

And the LibDems have been given FOUR weeks to get their house in order.

A letter has been sent to LibDem Leader David Tutt from Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister of State for Equalities and Levelling Up Communities:

“Dear Cllr Tutt,
I am writing to inform you that I have today published the External Assurance Review
of Eastbourne Borough Council carried out by the Chartered Institute of Public
Finance Accountants (CIPFA).

I am grateful for your willingness to engage openly with the review team, and the
assistance of your officers in providing information to CIPFA to support the review
and in the Exceptional Financial Support process more generally.
The external assurance reviews were carried out in all councils that received or
requested Exceptional Financial Support, to provide a detailed assessment of each
council’s financial position and management, and to make recommendations on the
actions necessary for the councils to ensure they are in a financially stable and
sustainable position.
The report published today sets out some significant challenges and risks for
Eastbourne Borough Council, including making sure its corporate, strategic and
asset disposal/management plans are in line with its wider Medium-Term Financial
Strategy, and support an overall move towards a lower level of dependence on
income from the tourism industry. It makes a series of sensible recommendations for
addressing these challenges, to which it is important that the Council responds
accordingly.
I trust that the report and its findings will be helpful in focusing the Council on the
activity and change that are needed, at both officer and member level, to lead to
sustainable change.
The external assurance review and a plan to respond to address any
recommendations was one of the conditions of our agreement to provide the council
with exceptional financial support. As such, I would like assurance that the Council
accepts the findings and is motivated to improve its financial position.
Your response to the review findings will help to inform my final decision on
capitalisation with respect to the financial year 2021/22, and any associated
conditions. My officials will work closely with your council officers to consider your
response, and to carry out the necessary due diligence to inform any decisions on
capitalisation and conditions for 21/22.
I would therefore ask that you set out in writing, within the next month, the steps you
are taking in the immediate and longer term to respond to the review and implement
its recommendations.
Based on some of the key findings of the assurance review, I would expect your
response and those discussions to include an appropriate focus on the following
priorities:
• Identifying specific opportunities to generate capital receipts through asset
sales, to avoid the need for ongoing borrowing under any agreed
capitalisation.
• Confirming the precise level of support needed in 2021/22, and if you think the
Council will need further support in future years.
• Actions the Council plans to take to address any identified challenges or risks
in relation to your position on borrowing, commercial investment, and capital
plans.
• Steps you will be taking to strengthen your overall financial governance.
I will also be considering the necessary arrangements for providing ongoing
assurance on the effective implementation of any plans for improvement. My officials
will be in touch with officers at the Councils shortly and will work with them to
consider your plans for responding to the review.”