Nottingham City Council is setting next year’s budget against the backdrop of having its Government funding slashed by three-quarters over the past decade.
It means that to keep on meeting the growing demand to look after the elderly – now by far the biggest single cost to the council – Council Tax will have to go up again. It’s the result of a decade of the Conservative Government retreating from funding local services and expecting councils to raise Council Tax bills in an attempt to pay for adult social care.
The Government’s approach is wrong. It pushes up council taxes on hard pressed households and does nothing to help those areas where there is higher need for care services. Such is the scale of Conservative funding cuts Council Tax will never raise enough to pay for care of the elderly and vulnerable in Nottingham.
The council will need to make £15.8m of savings in 2020/21, of which £13.4m is included in the December budget consultations report. This will be achieved by innovating, trying to do things differently and making further efficiencies – but that still doesn’t leave enough to fund vital services. Conservative funding cuts mean that Council Tax will rise by almost 4%, including the Government’s 2% adult social care precept.
It’s not the right way to fund such vital services – we need proper policies and adequate funding from Government to address the national crisis we face in caring for people in their old age. The vast bulk of our funding is now spent on care services for vulnerable children and older people with care needs. These are vital services that thousands of our residents rely on every day.
This scale of Government funding cuts has never happened before. In Nottingham we receive over £100million less per year than we did in 2013. Despite repeated promises from Government of a new plan to fund care services nothing has changed.
Councils up and down the country now have no choice but to raise council tax, increase charges and make further service reductions to try to close the funding gap. After 9 years of ignoring this problem it is urgent that Government puts forward new money and a new policy to fund care for the elderly.