Shrinking Government funding puts council services at risk

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Nottingham City Council services are at risk as more Government funding cuts present it with its toughest budget yet.

Government funding for the council has shrunk by £72m since 2010, leading to the council carrying out £123m of savings in its budgets over the past four years. The council is now preparing to set its budget for 2015/16 and has so far identified £21.8m of savings proposals, with a further £5.3m of savings still having to be found before the budget is finally set next year.

The Council believes cities like Nottingham are being treated unfairly by the Government. Nottingham has lost more in Revenue Spending Power per household than places in the affluent south. Other pressures, such as the rising demand for services to support vulnerable people and protect children, are greater in cities like Nottingham. This means that for another year, the continuing cuts in grant means the Government is contributing less money to fund council services and local people and businesses in general are contributing more.

Councils are awaiting details from the Government of the final settlements they will receive but based on the latest figures available, Nottingham City Council’s annual Government grant could drop from £103m now to just £13m by 2020.

This would lead to a fundamental change in what services the council could provide, with leisure centres, libraries, home care services for the disabled and elderly, youth services, children’s centres, early intervention, road repairs, building maintenance, pest control and parks maintenance all facing an uncertain future.

Nottingham City Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Graham Chapman, said: “Councils have already borne the brunt of the Government’s austerity measures and after implementing four painful years of savings, we’re now squeezing the last drops of efficiencies from services.
“This is the hardest budget yet and so we are taking the time we need to make the right decisions and trying to protect as much as possible those services that provide a safety net for vulnerable people.

“We face a triple whammy of £60m more cuts in Government grant to come over the next three years, rising demands on our services, and being hit harder than cities with leafy suburbs in the affluent south. This means we’re on the brink of fundamentally undermining or losing vital services which will cause significant suffering to the many people who rely on them.”

The council is continuing to do what it can to protect services, including:

· Children’s centres

· Keeping crime and anti-social behaviour down

· Keeping Nottingham as the cleanest city in the country

· Weekly bin collections

· Services to protect children and vulnerable adults.

As part of the draft budget proposals and in order to try to protect vital services, the council is:

· Bringing in £9.5m in additional income

· Making more efficiencies and doing some things differently, saving £8m

· Reducing demand and reviewing the way we commission some of our services, saving £2m.

However, to balance the 2015/16 budget, hard decisions have had to be taken about some services the council provides. These include:

· Reviewing charges for Adult Social Care – Introducing an average contribution of £20 a week for around 250 citizens receiving Care, Support and Enablement services

· Increasing Fees and Charges Review of charges for Adult Social Care Proposals: Day Care from £5 to £12 per day, transport to Day Centres from £5 to £8 per return journey, Jack Dawe from £17.50 to £22.50 per hour

· Reducing case management capacity in the Youth Offending Team

· Removing vacant posts in Youth Provision

· Reviewing Sports and Culture fees and charges

· Increasing cost of school meals from £1.75 to £1.80 per meal

· Changing day centre and residential care provision

· Children’s Centres – Expanding opportunities for schools to use children centre buildings, while maintaining Children’s Centre services to the community

· Rationalisation of Tourist Information Centre provision.

The service cuts will mean a reduction in the council workforce of 240. Council Tax is proposed to increase by 1.95%.

A report to the council’s Executive Board on Tuesday December 16th sets out the progress on the 2015/16 budget so far. The Government’s financial settlements for councils are expected later this month, and work will continue on the remaining £5.3m of savings proposals ahead of the formal budget consultation in January.

In the meantime, people have the opportunity to give their views on the budget proposals so far and to continue to provide any suggestions on how to make further savings, through the Your City Your Services process, at:www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/yourcityyourservices and at consultation meetings in January.

People can comment on the draft budget proposals from now until just before the budget is approved at the full council meeting on March 9th 2015.

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