The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been urged by Nottingham City Council to restore the funding sources that previous Chancellors have taken away from Nottingham.
Councillor Sam Webster, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre has written to Sajid Javid ahead of this week’s spending review announcement to highlight that Nottingham has had its main Government grant cut by £102 million since 2013 at a time when demand for services like care for the elderly and services to protect vulnerable children have been rising.
“Government funding cuts are holding us back and hurting local people. In Nottingham over the last 9 years we’ve had to save £267 million, due in large part to Government funding cuts,” says Councillor Webster in the letter.
“We’ve been innovative and improved efficiency. We’ve implemented a range of commercial and trading activities which bring in over £20 million a year to help fund local services. We have prioritised vital front line services and those services which we have a legal obligation to deliver.“
“The funding cuts imposed by your Government have gone too far, they’ve hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, they mean that local people are having to pay more to fill the funding gap and without new resources are putting vital public services and the financial stability of councils at risk. Just like in other local areas up and down the country we’ve had to cut services, increase some charges and increase local council tax to counter the funding cuts.”
The letter outlines three specific areas the Council would like to see prioritised in the spending review to ease the pressure on our financial position and help us to unlock Nottingham’s potential:
Social Care Green Paper – Care for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people are the biggest areas of expenditure in Nottingham. A clear plan for how local authorities continue to provide social care services as demand rises is essential for the long term financial sustainability of councils.
Fair Infrastructure funding – There is a serious disparity in spending on infrastructure between regions. London gets £5426 spent per head compared to just £438 per person for the East Midlands. Projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline have been shelved while projects like London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 set to go ahead. Now HS2 with its potential to provide substantial economic benefits for Nottingham and the East Midlands has been called into question. To ensure growth in all regions, a more equal distribution of infrastructure funding is essential.
Funding based on need – Cuts to local authorities have disproportionately fallen on urban areas with higher levels of deprivation. Since 2011 Nottingham has lost £529 spending power per household compared to wealthier areas like Surrey which have gained £19 per household. A new funding formula is needed that recognises the differences between areas of the country and has need at its heart.
“Councils do so much to transform local communities and economies, but given adequate resources and powers we can do much more,” said Councillor Webster.
“As a new Chancellor in post you have an opportunity to work with us rather than against us.”