Thursday 25 July 2024
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Nottingham

Nottingham City Council statement as 500 jobs to go and sweeping cuts to services approved

Nottingham City Council has set its budget and level of Council Tax for the coming financial year, 2024/25, at a meeting of all councillors on 4 March.

The council had faced a budget gap of over £53m for 2024/25 due to issues facing councils across the country including increased demand for children’s and adults’ social care, rising homelessness presentations and inflation.

This has meant savings of over £36m need to be made between 2024/25 to 2027/28 in order to set a balanced budget, which is a legal requirement for all councils.

In addition, the council, has been granted Exceptional Financial Support (EFS) from the Government of up to c£66.143m – £25m for the current year, 2023/24 and £41.143m in 2024/25. EFS is not additional funding from Government but allows the council to use capital resources, including from asset sales, to fund revenue costs for services.

The council’s element of the Council Tax will increase in 2024/25 by the full 4.99% indicated by the Government, made up of 2.99% Council Tax and a further 2% precept specifically towards Adult Social Care costs.

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In January, the council was issued with new statutory instructions by the Improvement and Assurance Board then overseeing the authority, which meant it had a legal duty to maximise the savings brought forward as part of the budget-setting process in order to minimise the amount it required in Exceptional Financial Support from Government.

A team of three Commissioners has now been appointed for the council by the Government to replace the Improvement and Assurance Board, which includes a Lead Commissioner, Tony McArdle; a Commissioner for Finance, Margaret Lee; and a Commissioner for Transformation to be nominated in due course.

The Commissioners have been granted extensive powers and will oversee the full range of the council’s improvement activities, including strategies to secure the medium and long- term financial sustainability of the council and plans to transform front line services.

Councillor Audra Wynter, the council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said:

“Local government in this country is facing an unprecedent financial crisis. Nottingham was one of 19 councils confirmed by the Government as needing Exceptional Financial Support to balance their books.

“Seventeen of these are councils with social care responsibilities like Nottingham, highlighting the huge pressure we are all under to meet the rising cost of vital care services for our most vulnerable people.

“The council’s financial reserves have been impacted by decisions it has made in the past and this has affected our financial resilience. However, since 2013/14, the council’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from Government has reduced by nearly £100m every year.

“Over the same period, Nottingham’s ‘Core Spending Power’, a measure used by Government, has reduced by over 28% in real terms according to SIGOMA, the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities.

• Read more: Nottingham City Council: Councillors approve budget ‘reluctantly’ as last-ditch attempt to save services fails

“The council has been faced with having to make some extremely difficult decisions but we have a legal duty to set a balanced budget.

“Our focus will be on continuing to provide important statutory services but other discretionary services that we know local people value will be significantly affected by the savings. We will do our best as a council to mitigate the impact as much as we can. ”

Savings planned for 2024/25 budget 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 seeking to remove all council contribution from their operation
  • Re-structuring and reducing tiers and overall capacity across the 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.

Public consultation took place on the proposals in December and January via an online survey and a range of engagement events with views received from over 5,400 people. Insight and learning from the consultation process will be used in the design phase and to mitigate impact where possible in the implementation of proposals. Additional targeted consultation will be required on some of the proposals based on more detailed proposed delivery models.

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