Nottingham City Council has launched formal consultation on draft proposals put forward to close a £50 million gap in its funding for 2024/25.
Like many local authorities across the country, the council is facing major pressures on its budget due to the cost of increased demand for children’s and adults’ social care and rising homelessness.
Councillors on the authority’s Executive Board met today (19 December) to discuss proposals to make the savings needed to balance the budget next year, which is a legal requirement for all councils.
A four-week public consultation now takes place until 16 January which includes an online survey and a series of engagement events.
The first of these takes place at the Council House on Wednesday 20 December between 5.30pm and 7pm and is open to all with no booking or registration needed. It will give people a chance to hear from leading councillors and officers on the proposals, the current national crisis in local government and ask questions.
The proposals for consultation involve managing demand, increasing charges, reducing costs, reducing services to a statutory minimum and in some cases ceasing services and funding altogether. They can be viewed in full in the appendices to the report to the Executive Board here and include:
- Reviewing Library Service provision while maintaining a comprehensive and efficient service offer appropriate to the needs of our citizens.
- Removing the council contribution towards Area Based Grants to the voluntary and charity sector and grants to arts organisations and cultural sector
- Reducing both the Community Protection and Resident Development services. The requirement to deliver duties relating to environmental enforcement and anti-social behaviour will be met.
- Reviewing the operation of community centres and seek to remove council subsidised grants
- Reducing public transport infrastructure to minimum statutory provision including the removal of funding to operate two bus-based park and ride sites, Victoria Bus Station and the real-time passenger information system.
- Reducing all linkbus services to statutory minimum provision, remove Easylink and withdraw funding contribution to the Medilink service
- Re-structuring and reducing tiers and overall capacity in Adult Social Care Assessment function.
- Closure of Colwick Park Activity Centre
- Ending school uniform support for eligible families if the Household Support Fund grant does not continue
- A reduction in council staffing levels of more than 500 full-time equivalent posts. Every effort will be made to limit compulsory redundancies through targeted voluntary redundancy.
- A proposed council tax increase of 4.99% which includes the 2% Adult Social Care precept permitted by the Government
The council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Audra Wynter, said: “There is a national funding crisis in local government caused by a huge increase in demand for vital services which support vulnerable children and adults and tackle homelessness. Providing these services accounts for nearly two-thirds of our spending so it’s no surprise our budget is under so much pressure, especially when you take into account the reductions in central government funding many councils have seen over the past decade or more.”
Since 2013/14, the council’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from Government has reduced by £97 million every year. Over the same period, Nottingham’s ‘Core Spending Power’, a measure used by Government which also includes income from Council Tax, business rates and other grants, has reduced by 28.2% in real terms compared to 19.4% for all councils in England, according to SIGOMA, the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities.
Past issues relating to financial governance which led to the appointment of an Improvement and Assurance Board have reduced the council’s financial resilience and ability to draw on reserves.
Cllr Wynter continued: “Like all councils, we have a legal responsibility to balance our budget. In order to do that next year, we have to consider some very difficult decisions about services which we, and local communities, value in order to make the savings needed. “We want to be upfront with people about the serious situation we face as a city but no final decisions have been made on the proposals so I would urge everyone to have their say by completing the survey.”