A Valentine’s message is winging its way from Nottingham to the newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, with a heartfelt plea for the gift the city deserves – a fair share of the funding pie.
The message from the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finances Cllr Sam Webster to Rishi Sunak, who was appointed after Sajid Javid resigned as part of the Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week, will say:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
If you have money for Surrey,
Can we have some too?
This refers to the ongoing disparity in funding for affluent areas like Surrey – expected to receive an additional £26million of Government funding – while Nottingham is set to lose another £14million.
Cllr Webster goes on to state: “Ahead of your first Budget I’m asking you to begin to restore the resources that your predecessors have taken away from Nottingham.
“Nottingham has had its main Government grant cut by £102m since 2013, at a time when demand for services like care for the elderly and protecting vulnerable children have been rising. In Nottingham over the last nine years we’ve had to save £267m, due in large part to Government funding cuts. We’ve been innovative and improved efficiency.
“We’ve implemented a range of commercial and trading activities which bring in over £20 million a year to help fund local services. We have prioritised vital front line services and tried to protect our most vulnerable residents.
“The funding cuts imposed by your Government have gone too far, they’ve hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, they mean that local people are having to pay more to fill the funding gap and without new resources are putting vital public services and the financial stability of councils at risk. Just like in other local areas up and down the country we’ve had to cut services, increase some charges and increase council tax in an attempt to counter the funding cuts.”
He asks Mr Sunak to focus on three specific areas:
- Developing a clear plan for how local authorities continue to provide social care services as demand rises is essential for the long term financial sustainability of councils. The LGA has warned there will be a £6.7 billion spending gap in children’s and adult social care services by 2025.
- Ending the disparity in spending on infrastructure between regions. London gets £3636 spent per head compared to just £741 per person for the East Midlands. Projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline have been shelved while projects like London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 are set to go ahead.
- Introducing a new funding that recognises the differences between areas of the country and has need at its heart. Cuts to local authorities have disproportionately fallen on urban areas with higher levels of deprivation. Since 2011 Nottingham has lost £529 spending power per household compared to wealthier areas like Surrey which have gained £19 per household.