Nottingham City Council’s Executive Board has agreed extra proposals to balance its 2018/19 budget – totalling £27m of savings due to Government funding cuts.
Facing the toughest budget since the Government imposed austerity measures seven years ago – with the rising cost of adult social care adding severe pressure – the council managed to identify £21m of savings before Christmas, with £6m of further savings still needed.
This has now been found by reviewing the way some services are delivered, reducing duplication and targeting intervention in different ways. Council Tax is also proposed to be increased by a total of 5.99% – of which 4% is down to the Government’s social care precept and extra tax raising options. The budget plans also see a loss of over 200 council posts. The proposals will now go for final approval at Full Council on 5th March.
The council is doing what it can to offset the impact of the Government’s cuts, which have seen Nottingham’s grant funding cut by two-thirds since 2013. This includes bringing in £20m a year through commercial activities such as reducing energy bills and generating income from installing solar panels on council buildings, increasing income from the Royal Centre, merchandising by the National Ice Arena and opening cafes.
Once again, the council is doing all it can to protect key services such as children’s centres, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, keeping Nottingham as the UK’s cleanest city and protecting children and supporting vulnerable elderly people. It has also committed £4m a year over the next nine years towards tackling homelessness.
But caring for the elderly, disabled and children now accounts for over 60% of the council’s entire budget – meaning the funding for other services like leisure, highways and parks is being drastically squeezed.
Nottingham City Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Graham Chapman, said: “Not only is the Government continuing with these savage cuts, it is also expecting councils to raise Council Tax if they are to have any chance of continuing to provide local services. It has also abjectly failed to address the adult social care crisis, leaving councils struggling without sufficient funding to address what is a national issue.
“Places like Nottingham been hit hardest by their austerity measures, but we can’t raise as much in Council Tax as more affluent areas, and yet the services we provide are needed more here than in richer areas. That’s what makes these cuts so unfair.
“The last thing we want to do is increase Council Tax for local people while reducing services, but the Government has really left us with no other option.”
The proposals were approved by the council’s Executive Board today (February 20). The budget consultation is ongoing until the final decision is taken by the Full Council next month – views can be given here: https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/about-the-council/budget-consultation-201819/