Sunday 21 July 2024
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Nottingham

Nottingham City Council: Government intervention explained

Nottingham City Council faces a significant government intervention following the latest developments in its ongoing financial and governance crises.

This intervention, detailed in a letter from the Deputy Director of Local Government Stewardship, Max Soule, to the Chief Executive of Nottingham City Council, outlines a series of measures to address the council’s serious failings.

Background

Nottingham City Council has been under government observation since January 2021, with intervention escalating in September 2022.

Despite efforts to comply with recommendations from the Improvement and Assurance Board, the latest assessment reveals that the Council is lagging, particularly in finance transformation and improving the organization’s governance and workforce culture.

Key Concerns

  1. Governance Issues: There’s insufficient evidence that the Council has fully embedded efficient decision-making across all service areas. Persistent governance issues, especially concerning Nottingham City Homes, are highlighted.
  2. Financial Mismanagement: A Section 114 notice was issued due to the Council’s inability to balance its budget for 2023/24, indicating severe financial instability. Key issues include a net overspend of £23.4 million, driven by increased demand in social care, non-delivery of transformation savings, and various inflationary pressures.
  3. Cultural and Leadership Challenges: While there is increased awareness of the need for effective member/officer interaction, fundamental cultural change and commitment to transformation remain significant challenges.
  4. Service Delivery Issues: Services have been restructured, but the focus on ‘best value’ and resident-centeredness needs improvement. Critical services like adult social care and children’s services are adversely affected.

Proposed Intervention Measures

The Secretary of State, considering the severity of these issues, proposes a comprehensive intervention package:

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  1. Appointment of Commissioners: A team of three government appointed Commissioners, including a Lead Commissioner and Commissioners for finance and transformation, will be appointed to oversee the Council’s recovery efforts.
  2. Scope of Intervention: The intervention will focus on enhancing governance, achieving financial sustainability, complying with financial management rules, and redesigning council services for better value and sustainability.
  3. Actions for the Council: The Council is directed to agree and appraise an Improvement Plan, emphasizing risk management, financial stability, service improvement, and supporting the Commissioners’ work.
  4. Duration: The intervention is initially set for two years, with extensions depending on the Council’s progress.

The Council is invited to make representations about this proposal, with a final decision pending these submissions.

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