Nottingham City councillors have approved a range of service changes and a Council Tax increase, which includes the Government’s adult social care precept to achieve overall savings of £15.6m in next year’s budget.
The budget was agreed at a meeting of the Council on Monday 9th March following public consultation on the proposals.
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 the significant savings required will be met through a range of changes, including increasing fees and charges for a number of paid-for services, making changes to the ‘Local Link Bus’ network, delivering an alternative operating model for Nottingham Tennis Centre, closing some ‘super loos,’ and introducing a new chargeable mid-winter garden waste collection.
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Sam 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 £15.6m 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. Not only that but funding cuts are not being applied fairly with Nottingham households losing £529 while wealthier Surrey has seen its spending power actually rise by £19. After nine years of ignoring this problem it is urgent that Government puts forward a fair system, new money and a new policy to fund care for the elderly.”
The full set of savings is included in the report to the Council meeting, which is available at item 85 here: https://committee.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=177&MId=7979&Ver=4