The Government’s failure to fully cover the costs of the Covid pandemic has forced Nottingham City Council to propose an additional £12.5m of budget cuts which will affect local services.
The Council has seen estimated costs and lost income due to Covid-19 soar to £87.9 million since the pandemic began. Emergency funding has been needed to care for older and vulnerable people and provide PPE while at the same time income has been lost from leisure centres, trade waste services, car parks and many other areas.
However, so far the Government has failed to meet its pledge to fully cover the cost of Covid to councils which nationally stands at £7.4 billion.
Nottingham has only received £19.823 million plus a further £3.723million confirmed as part of tranche 3 of extra Government so far, just 27% of the total cost of Covid, leaving a major hole in the Council’s finances. The current crisis comes on top of a decade of austerity which has seen Government funding for the City Council cut by over £100 million This has meant that difficult decisions have had to be made in order to meet the legal requirement to balance the budget in the current year.
A range of emergency savings proposals were approved for consultation by the Council’s Executive Board today which will result in a reduction of 154 posts although the Council will seek to meet this through the deletion of vacant posts and voluntary redundancies where possible.
- Day Centres – closing one day centre for people with disabilities while maintaining access to a day centre for all users
- Apprentices – delaying the employment of apprentices until next April, saving £450,000 in total.
- On street parking machines – replacing most parking machines with cashless machines, promoting pay by phone and card payments
- Parking permits – introducing charge of £25 for households requesting a third residents parking permit, renewable every 2 years;
- Civic roles – reducing the ceremonial duties of the Lord Mayor
- Bulwell Hall Golf Course – closing the course from November 2020 and seek an external operator
- Play Areas – closing a small number of underused play areas and those requiring significant improvement.
Councillors have prioritised services for the most vulnerable residents, protected free universal services such as bulky waste collections, a free garden waste bin and 2 free resident parking permits and defended parks, community centres, libraries, care services and leisure centres.
Councillor Sam Webster, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “The current crisis has seen Nottingham’s key workers step up when they were needed most. Thousands of our front line, key workers are employed directly or indirectly by Nottingham City Council; care workers, bus drivers, bin lorry crews, meal-on-wheels service, Community Protection Officers, park rangers and many, many more.
“These people have helped us through the crisis, they’ve kept our vital services running and helped to protect our most vulnerable residents, we couldn’t have come this far without them.
“I’m shocked at how appallingly badly the Government is treating communities across the country at this time of need. Our key workers are being massively let down by the Government’s failure to deliver on its clear promise to fully cover the costs of Covid.
“We are having to put forward some extremely difficult proposals today, but we’ve been determined to protect universal free services for our residents where possible and we’ve prioritised those services upon which our most vulnerable residents rely, including care services for older people and employment support for young people who find themselves out of work.
“Covid comes on top of ten years of Government funding cuts to our City. We receive over £100million less each year to fund local services than we did ten years ago. Our ability to cope financially has been severely affected by austerity. Councils up and down the country are needed now more than ever to help our areas recover from the severe health, social and economic impacts of Covid, but to respond we need adequate resources.
“The clear message to Government from Nottingham is to honour our key workers and our communities by funding the costs of Covid as was promised.”
A consultation on the budget proposals has been launched. Have your say at https://wh1.snapsurveys.com/s.asp?k=159533770849