Tuesday 23 July 2024
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Nottingham

Nottingham City Council savings: 110 job cuts, higher parking fees and waste collection charges proposed

Staff cuts and tax rises are being proposed as Nottingham City Council looks to bridge a £32m budget gap.

The Labour-run authority will present a new budget and medium-term financial plan next week.

It sets out targets for the next four years and will be discussed at an Executive Board meeting on Tuesday, December 20.

In a bid to make savings to fill £29m of the deficit, the council is proposing a raft of further measures.

These include the axing of 110 full-time equivalent job posts, a five per cent tax rise and an end to the collecting of household bins which have been put out on the wrong days.

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The measures come on top of previously-announced changes to children’s centres, and youth services and applying charges to parking permits and bulky waste collections.

Council documents point towards the vast proportion of pressures arising from a reduction in Government grants.

Since 2013/14 a revenue support grant from the Government has reduced from £126.8m to £26.7m, or almost £700 per resident.

While this year’s figure represents a rise over the £25m the council received each year between 2019/20 and 2021/22, it remains significantly lower than the grant a decade ago.

However, the council’s opposition has argued the pressures are also down to its own financial failures.

The council has lost large sums of money in the collapse of Robin Hood Energy, roughly £38m, as well as almost £3m amid the liquidation of the Nottingham Castle Trust and around half of the £18m invested in the Broad Marsh site after shopping centre owners intu entered administration in 2020.

As a result of its financial problems, the council is being closely monitored by a Government-appointed improvement board which is checking its current spending and future financial planning.

Cllr Kevin Clarke (Ind), the leader of the opposition group of Independent councillors, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I dread to think what the new council tax will be now the government have permitted them to increase to five per cent.

“This council has increased the council tax every year whilst cutting front-line services.

“Hopefully they will pay at the ballet box come May, if we would have had the £50 million they have thrown down the drain the past few years we may have not had to sacrifice the workforce.”

‘Once again we are faced with some really difficult decisions about how we balance our budget next year’

The council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, Cllr Adele Williams (Lab), says the authority faces some “really difficult decisions”.

In the second quarter of 2022/23, the budget presented to the December Executive Board shows an £11.4m deficit.

This is a reduction from the £13.2m in the first quarter of 2022/23.

A significant portion of this has arisen from the need to pay council workers more amid the cost of living crisis.

The pay award for 2022/23 has now been agreed at a base of £1,925 for all pay points, which represents a £6.9m budget overspending because the council had planned for a two per cent rise.

There is also a £4.5m gap within adult services due to rising external care
purchasing budgets and a £3.8m hole in ‘growth and city development’ due to “a significant rise in demand for homelessness services” and price increases in energy and utilities.

Around 60 per cent of the council’s budget now goes towards adult and children’s services amid increasing demand.

The overall budget gap, therefore, is £32.2m for 2023/24.

This is set to rise to £44m over the four-year period of the medium-term financial plan.

As such the council is proposing new savings of £29m for 2023/24, of which £10.3m requires public consultation.

The savings are proposed to be made through a workforce reduction of 110 full-time equivalent posts, changes to adult social care to a focus on more independent living support instead of residential or nursing care, and via a review of fees and charges for parking, cremation and burials, leisure centres and cafes.

On top of this will be a review of grants to community groups, community centres and cultural organisations and the withdrawal of the ‘Shopmobility’ service at the Victoria Centre, which loans out powered wheelchairs for free.

It has also been proposed the collection of household bins put out on a wrong day will come to an end, and two floors of Loxley House may be moth-balled on a short-term basis.

As revealed recently tariffs for 5,000 Enviroenergy customers will rise by between 22 and 75 per cent.

However, the current proposals leave a further £3.2m of savings which will need to be addressed by February next year.

 

Council tax is proposed to rise from April 2023 by 2.99 per cent, with an additional increase of two per cent for the Adult Social Care Precept to fund the pressures in adult social care.

The proposed increase is therefore an overall 4.99 per cent for 2023/24.

Nottingham typically struggles to raise enough money through council tax due to its low council tax base, with 62.5 per cent of properties in Band A and 17.5 per cent in Band B – the lowest two categories – meaning the amount it can generate is lower than some other councils.

For the vast majority of city residents, who sit in these two bands, this would equate to paying between £1.25 and £1.46 more per week.

Residents living in Band D properties will have seen their tax rise from £1,404.42 in 2013/14 to £1,955.32 in 2022/23.

Cllr Williams, (Lab), added: “Since 2010 we have had to make over £300m of savings to our budgets.

“With vastly diminished Government grants, we have got to seriously consider the five per cent Council Tax increase allowed by Government, even though this wouldn’t raise enough to properly meet local needs, and it would sadly place a further burden on local people who we know are already struggling with the cost of living crisis.

“In this budget, we have protected our ability to keep Nottingham communities safe with numbers of much-needed community protection officers not seen in other core cities.

“We have made sure that we will still be able to offer free events for families and a network of outstanding parks that will enable hard-pressed: Nottingham families to enjoy what they might otherwise struggle to afford to do.”

•  Double-yellow lines to restrict parking near Nottinghamshire reservoir

•  Nottingham city council tax to rise by full 5% to help with £32.2m budget gap

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