Retention of an additional Children’s Centre and reducing proposed cuts to the Youth Service will be recommended to councillors at a meeting of Executive Board on Tuesday 22nd February.
The changes follow feedback from residents and businesses, trade unions and staff in the biggest-ever consultation on Nottingham City Council’s budget for the coming year.
Executive Councillors will be asked to endorse the council’s four year Medium Term Financial Plan which is balanced in all years from 2022/23 to 2025/26. A balanced four year budget plan is key to delivering the City’s Together for Nottingham improvement programme passed by Full Council in January. Also up for consideration is the Government’s Adult Social Care Precept of 1% which would be added to Council Tax bills and a below-inflation increase in core Council Tax of 1.99%.
If endorsed by Executive Councillors, these items will go forward for final approval at the Full Council meeting on 7th March.
The formal budget consultation process began in December last year with the council seeking to close a £28m funding gap in 2022/23. The funding gap is due largely to increasing costs in the provision of care services for older people and a growing number of children coming into the care of the council, now making up two-thirds of the entire budget. This is squeezing the funding available for other council services.
Around 700 responses were received during the budget consultation, resulting in the following suggested changes to the savings proposals:
- Reducing the Children’s Centre saving and retaining four centres rather than the three originally proposed
- Increasing the number of Play and Youth Services staff that will be retained
- Withdrawing the proposal to charge for toilets at Greyhound Street.
The consultation involved over 300 participants at 17 engagement events (in-person and on-line) and included young people, service users, voluntary and community sector organisations and faith groups, businesses, statutory and non-statutory partner organisations, council staff and networks and Trade Unions.
Following more than a decade of funding cuts from central Government, securing the council’s finances on a sustainable, long-term footing has been challenging. Difficult decisions made now will provide a solid four-year foundation and enable more investment in key council services in the coming years.
The City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources, Cllr Sam Webster, said: “I want to thank everyone who took part in our budget consultation. We always said the proposals were not set in stone and we’ve listened carefully to what people have told us and acted on their views and suggestions.
“However, like many councils across the country, we are still facing extremely challenging circumstances due to a decade of unprecedented reductions in Government funding and the growing demand for some key council services, especially care services for older people.
“Councils of all types are facing the same challenges, not least because one of the main statutory services we provide – care for the elderly – is not being properly funded through national taxation. Instead, it is being unfairly funded by the Government’s Social Care Precept, adding an extra charge to Council Tax bills which amounts to £211 more on Band D bills over the last six years.
“The Government has talked a lot about ‘Levelling Up’ recently, but by cutting the resources that local areas have available during a time of rising demand for some key services, the effect has been the opposite of ‘Levelling Up.’
“It is grossly unfair that the Government has cut £320 per household in Nottingham against an average of only £47 nationally. I would again urge the Government to tackle the underfunding of local public services and end the raid on Council Tax payers. Hard-pressed Nottingham households cannot afford to pick up the costs of a care system that should be funded nationally.”
The full report to Executive Board is available here.