Nottingham City Council has formally approved its 2022/23 budget by making savings to close a starting budget gap of £28m and a four-year plan to set the organisation on a stable financial course for the future.
The meeting of the Full Council today (Monday 7) agreed a range of proposals for the forthcoming financial year starting in April, including:
- the closure of some children’s centres
- introducing an administration charge for second and third resident parking permits, and bulky-waste collections
- a staffing reduction in play and youth services.
The report, including all budget saving proposals, is available here.
Feedback during a wide-ranging public consultation resulted in councillors making changes, which were ratified at today’s meeting. These amendments mean that:
- the main city centre public toilets on Greyhound Street will remain free of charge
- one additional children’s centre will remain open
- more youth and play service staff will be retained.
A number of Council service areas will see more investment, including:
- an estimated £46m additional funding, over four years, in care services for Nottingham’s elderly residents and most vulnerable children
- a £230m investment in council housing to improve existing properties, build hundreds of new council houses and make hard-to-heat homes more sustainable and energy-efficient.
Councillors have protected spending on many key services, such as street cleansing, Community Protection, parks and open spaces and homelessness support.
The agreed budget will involve a workforce reduction of the equivalent of 63 full-time posts – 27 of which are currently vacant. It will also see a 1.99% basic council tax increase plus a further 1% for the Government’s social care precept towards the rising demand for adult care services.
Like most local authorities across the country, the Council is receiving substantially less in its main Government grant than it did a decade ago. This at the same time as a rise in demand for statutory adult care services which, along with caring for vulnerable children, now accounts for two-thirds of the council’s entire budget.
This is squeezing the funding available for other council services. The savings in next year’s budget comes on top of more than £300m of savings since 2010.
Councillors also endorsed a balanced four-year Medium Term Financial Plan to 2025/26, which is key to delivering the city’s Together for Nottingham improvement programme passed by Full Council in January.
The £230m investment programme over five years in Nottingham City Council’s housing stock was agreed during the meeting.
Nottingham City Council, along with its arms-length housing management company, Nottingham City Homes (NCH), has already constructed in excess of 650 houses, with more than 300 more new council properties planned or in the pipeline across Nottingham over the next two years, including at Bestwood and Clifton where 144 new homes are already under construction.
The Council capital programme, which aims to help improve the authority’s current housing stock of 25,218 homes, includes new kitchens and bathrooms, energy-efficient windows, solar panels and external wall insulation.
Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources, Councillor Sam Webster, said: “We’ve had to make over £300m of budget savings since 2010, but this was the toughest year yet requiring incredibly difficult decisions about services that we know are valued by local people.
“We made some changes to the proposals after listening to feedback through the public consultation and have done all we can to soften the impact on service users.
“Unfortunately, like many councils across the country, we have faced 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.
“The amount of funding from Government for public services in Nottingham is a fraction of what it was a decade ago, so unfortunately, like the vast majority of councils, we have no alternative but to increase council tax once again.
“The unfairness of Government policy on Nottingham is what’s most shocking. While they have taken away £320 of funding per dwelling in Nottingham, the average across the country was a £47 cut. If the Government is serious about ‘Levelling Up’ it cannot continue to under-invest in local public services and hammer households with never-ending council tax increases.”