Nottingham City Council’s Executive Board has agreed the further service changes that are needed to achieve overall savings of £15.6m in next year’s budget.
The council included £13.4m of savings in its budget proposals in December – and has now identified the extra £2.2m needed to balance its 2020/21 budget. All proposals are subject to consultation online and at a series of ongoing events, before being given final approval by the council in March.
The budget is being set against the backdrop of the City Council having its Government funding slashed by three-quarters over the past decade. This means that to keep on meeting the growing demand for care services to look after the elderly – now by far the biggest single cost to the council – Council Tax will have to go up by 1.99% with an additional 2% Government adult social care precept.
Innovating, doing things differently and making further efficiencies has helped to reduce the level of service cuts needed, but proposals identified in December included increasing fees and charges for a range of paid-for services, making changes to the ‘Local Link Bus’ network and delivering an alternative operating model for Nottingham Tennis Centre.
Now more services are set to be affected to meet the further £2.2m needed to balance the budget, including:
• Staffing efficiencies in Children’s Services and Youth Services
• Review of facilities management costs in community centres
• Introduction of a new chargeable mid-winter garden waste collection
• Reduction of neighbourhood floral bedding
• Review of the operating model of leisure centres
• Increased sponsorship income
• Closure of super loos at Forest Park & Ride and Spondon Street.
Cllr Webster said: “The Government is expecting us to increase Council Tax to pay for the cost of care services for elderly people – that’s why Council Tax is going up again. It’s not the right way to fund such vital services – we need proper policies and adequate funding from Government to address the national crisis we face in caring for people in their old age. The Government has so far failed to come up with a proper plan to fund care services across the country.
“The lack of adequate Government funding for local services means that we’re having to make savings of another £15.8m in this budget, but the Council Tax increase only brings in just above £4m.
“This scale of Government funding cuts has never happened before. In Nottingham we receive over £100m less per year than we did in 2013. Despite repeated promises from Government of a new plan to fund care services nothing has changed. The vast bulk of our funding is now spent on care services for vulnerable children and older people with care needs. These are vital services that thousands of our residents rely on every day.
“Councils up and down the country now have no choice but to raise council tax, increase charges and make further service reductions to try to close the funding gap. After nine years of ignoring this problem it is urgent that Government puts forward new money and a new policy to fund care for the elderly.”
The council’s Executive Board approved the remaining proposed savings over the next year on Tuesday 18 February. People can take part in the budget consultation here: https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/your-council/about-the-council/your-city-your-services