Why going over budget isn’t always your fault

Budgets are important. They allow an organisation to understand where its financial resources are coming from and to prioritise where they will be spent. They also act as an early warning system if things aren’t going according to plan. So overspending against your budget can be a problem. But it isn’t necessarily your fault. And here’s why. Continue reading

Where next for local government funding?

With each week that passes, it seems that another local authority joins the list of those whose finances have reached crisis point. First it was Northamptonshire County Council that hit the headlines, but top-tier councils in Sussex, Lancashire, Suffolk, Surrey, Torbay and Oxfordshire also seem to be feeling the heat. And Somerset County Council, down the road from me, has just voted through £28 million of cuts over the next two years, leading opposition councillors to describe the council as on the ‘brink of bankruptcy’. Continue reading

Turning a hobby into a living

Making a living from their hobby is the dream of many craftspeople. In a slight change of pace, I explore here how they can turn this dream into reality. I’ve focused on woodland crafts because, as an amateur green woodworker, that’s what I know about. But the lessons are the same for pretty much anyone wanting to turn pro.

As our jobs become more stressful and less secure, an increasing number of us spend our few idle moments wondering what it would be like to jack in the day job and make a living by doing something that we truly love. Whether it is managing a woodland, making chairs or carving spoons, the thought of using our skills to create an exciting and profitable business holds many of us in its thrall. But what would it be like to turn our hobby into our livelihood? And how can we make it happen? Continue reading

Universities encouraged to make financial information more visible to students

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is asking universities and colleges in England to present information about their income and expenditure in a way that is transparent and accessible to students and to the general public. This draws on research undertaken for HEFCE by Sockmonkey Consulting and the National Union of Students (NUS). Continue reading

Beware of false profits

In these times of austerity, there’s a greater focus than ever on how much things cost. I’m working with several of my public sector clients, for example, to help them to work out the cost of the services they provide and to use this information to make better decisions. The same is true across the commercial sector, where lower costs equal higher profits. Except that they don’t always. Not in the big scheme of things. Continue reading