Author: Craig Stanley

Government Making Local People Pick up Social Care Bill

the Conservative Government expects councils to put an additional 2% charge onto council tax bills from April. 

This follows on from them cutting 60p in every £1 of Government funding that councils across the country receive. 

In Nottingham that means our city now receives over £100million less Government funding every year than it did back in 2011. That equates to a loss of Government funding of £529 per Nottingham household. 

In fact it was one of the first acts of the new Chancellor to add half a billion pounds onto council tax bills by way of this adult social care precept, which means that the additional money raised is to be spent on care services for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people. 

There are a few problems with the Governments approach:

  1. It’s short termism at its very worst – for 2 years councils have had promise after promise of new Government policies to properly fund care services for older people. The need for those services is growing yet the funding for councils has been reducing. This causes a funding gap for many councils who have adult social care responsibilities. 
  2. It’s unfair – areas with the highest need tend to be local authorities in poorer parts of the country. Those happen to be the areas that can raise the least additional funding from a council tax increase. It breaks down like this – in places like Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool most older people are not wealthy enough to fund their own care in older age so the council has to fund it. In places like Surrey, Sussex and Buckinghamshire most older people are wealthy enough to fund their own care when they need it. But guess what – it’s the areas with the least demand on the council who can raise the most by increasing council tax. So to put it bluntly when Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool add 1% to their council tax they might raise around £3 per head. When councils in Surrey, Sussex and Buckinghamshire do the same the raise over double that amount per person. So by failing to redistribute funding based on the needs of local populations the Government is making the inequality even worse.
  3. It’s hard pressed families that face yet again higher council tax bills. Council tax is not progressive, it does not take account of income, it does not take account of ability to pay in the same way that income tax does. So people on low wages who are already struggling to make ends meet will pay 2% more and a multi millionaire with a very highly paid job or business income will pay 2% more. A Tory tax if ever I saw one. 

I hope that City Councillors in opposition parties can see this for what it is. We in the Labour Group certainly can – Unfair, short termism that doesn’t actually provide the funding that’s needed, where it’s needed. I also hope that we can have cross party support to join Labour Councillors in our lobbying of Government to deal with the huge funding gaps that now exist. 

Council tax increases alone cannot meet the cost demand for services or close the funding gap or begin to deal with inequalities between different parts of the country.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services ADASS say that councils now have a funding gap of £3.6billion in adult care services 

And 

The Children’s Society has concluded that by 2025 councils will have a £3 billion funding gap for children’s services. 

Contrary to some statements I’ve heard this is not a new Conservative Government. It’s the same group of Tory MPs that have presided over austerity and funding cuts for the last decade. They have created the inequality, they have unfairly increased council tax bills and they have created the huge gaps in funding that affect towns and cities across the country. It’s about time they dealt with the problems they’ve created. 

Cllr Sam Webster,
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre

Labour’s Plan to make Nottingham Green

At January’s Full Council Nottingham Labour is unveiling our response to the climate crisis, reiterating our ambition to become the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028 and publishing a positive plan that tackles the environmental challenges we face in a way that improves the quality of life for local people.

Over the past two decades some Nottingham Labour has ensured our city is leading the rest of the country on this issue. that Nottingham met its Energy Strategy target early (a 26% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions against 2005 by 2020) with reductions of emissions by 39% since 2005, equivalent to 43% per person  Some of the actions we have already taken include:

  • Signing the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change in 2000 with a follow up in 2011,
  • £15 million investment in one of the UK’s largest electric bus fleets
  • Developing and expanding the electric tram network
  • Improving cycling facilities, including bike hubs and a cycle hire scheme
  • Significant investment in cycle corridors
  • Introduction of the Workplace Parking Levy – tackling congestion and containing traffic growth, while generating funds to invest in public transport and
  • Installing solar panels on 4500 domestic properties across the city.

Whilst we rightly celebrate this success, it is just the beginning. . Together with city partners, we will be creating new Climate Change and Energy plans for the next decade, taking forward the ambitions of a locally responsible global city and turn words into actions. This will bring benefits such as reducing fuel poverty, improving the natural environment and air quality and providing sustainable jobs for the future

Following the launch of the citywide charter for sustainable carbon neutrality through the Green Partnership, the Council is now it is setting out a plan of action to help take the city towards carbon neutrality. This takes the same aim of addressing one of our most pressing environmental and climate challenges in a way that benefits the city and residents, improves quality of life and ensures nobody is excluded from the progress it will bring. In particular, Nottingham wants to develop and maximise the opportunities for local jobs and retaining the value of what’s need to be done within the city. Efforts are focused on five key areas:

  • Transport – Building on the city’s successful efforts so far to provide high-quality green public transport and to encourage take-up of low and no-emission vehicles.
  • The built environment – Adding to the 40,000 energy efficiency measures already in local homes and the roll-out of the pioneering Energiesprong scheme to create net zero carbon homes.
  • Energy generation – Going beyond the huge installation programme of solar panels on council buildings and homes and the council’s energy from waste operation by looking into anaerobic digestion, maximising the use of heat pumps that use water, air and the ground to heat our buildings and the possibility of expanding the city’s district heating network
  • Waste and water – Maximising the potential of the city’s waste disposal arrangements, which see over 90% reused, recycled, composted or used for energy recovery.
  • Consumption – Increasing local food production while reducing food waste and consumption of high carbon foods, by making city events more carbon neutral and tourism more sustainable, increasing the range of edible plants in public spaces and encouraging community gardens and hubs to grow and share food.

We all have a role to play in this, but we all have something to gain by finding more sustainable ways to live and work. This will bring benefits such as reducing fuel poverty, improving the natural environment and air quality and providing sustainable jobs for the future.

Read full report here.

Cllr Sally Longford,
Deputy Leader of Nottingham City Council,
Portfolio Holder for Energy & Environment and Democratic Services

Conservative cuts lead to hard-pressed council tax payers funding care for the elderly

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.

I fear for local services under the Conservatives

If the Conservatives are elected with a majority in Parliament on Thursday I fear for the future of local services like libraries, children’s centres and parks. The financial strain on councils is so great that without a new funding deal and a new way to fund care for elderly (which councils are currently responsible for funding) many will have no choice but to sell off public assets like libraries, parks and leisure centres or close them completely. It’s no exaggeration to say that for many councils across England financial pressures are at breaking point.

We know from experience over the last decade of austerity that local public services, services provided by councils and local schools have all suffered from severe funding cuts. In Nottingham the council’s main funding grant from Government has been cut by over £100 million per year and our schools have lost out on £71million. 

The result of these unprecedented funding reductions is reduced services or in some cases services ending, rising council taxes and increased local charges. Councils up and down the country find themselves in a similar position, although it’s true to say that councils in poorer parts of the country have been targeted for bigger cuts in recent years.

Councils are currently responsible for funding care for the elderly and funding children in care services. Protecting vulnerable children and delivering care services to elderly, vulnerable and disabled people are now by far the biggest area of spending for councils and demand and therefore costs are continuing to rise. Council tax increases have been forced onto households in an attempt by councils to make up some of the Government funding cuts, but the truth is that additional council tax income goes nowhere near the level of Government funding reductions. 

People know all too well that homelessness and rough sleeping have increased, that spending on highways maintenance has reduced, that local policing has been decimated, that more children are being raised in poverty and that as our population gets older more elderly people require care at home or residential care. Councils and council employees are on the front line every day focussed on these very issues. I fear that another 5 years of a Conservative Government won’t deliver the reform and new funding that councils need to function. More cuts, more austerity and more pain for local communities is not the way to deal with the very real challenges our country faces. 

Cllr Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Finance at Nottingham City Council 

Government Cancels Chancellor’s Budget Starving Local Public Services of New Cash

The Government has announced that it has cancelled the Chancellor’s November budget. Over the past decade of austerity the Conservative Party has starved local public services of cash and has consistently made a political choice to cut hardest the funding to cities, urban areas and the poorest parts of the country. 

The chronic underfunding of local council services, like care for the elderly, housing, and youth provision continues. The people of Nottingham have been hit hard by Conservative cuts. Compared to 2013 Government funding for local public services has fallen by £101 million per year. At the same time local schools in Nottingham have lost out on £71million, which equates to £496 per child. We’ve lost many hundreds of Police officers to Government funding cuts and community policing teams across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have been devastated. 

In his latest Spending Review, Conservative Chancellor Sajid Javid again raided the pockets of local council tax payers. He announced that £500million would be added to council tax bills nationally to stop councils going bankrupt, such has been the scale of Tory cuts.

While the Conservatives continue to be obsessed only with Brexit it seems that our towns and cities have yet again been forgotten. With the cancellation of the Chancellor’s budget and no end in sight of Tory austerity councils up and down the country will have no choice but to reduce local services even further. Faced with huge funding gaps to the tune of billions of pounds nationally, Council tax payers will once again find themselves paying more, for less.

Cllr Sam Webster,
Portfolio Holder for Finance
Nottingham City Council

Sherwood Kids lose £520,000 in Tory School Cuts

Sherwood Kids lose £520,000 in Tory School Cuts

Sherwood School Cuts

Under new government proposals, Nottingham schools are set to lose over £22 million by 2020, whilst schools in some of the wealthiest areas of England are set to gain.

In Sherwood, schools are set to see funding reduced by over £520,000, an average of £467 less per pupil.

That is why Nottingham Labour is against the proposed cuts and asked parents to take part in a consultation. The results were forwarded to the Government. Over 4500 parents told us that they thought the cuts were unfair and would be damaging to their child’s education.

In Sherwood, Labour Councillors spoke with parents and encouraged them to take part in consultations.

Your Nottingham Labour Councillors will continue to fight to stop Conservative cuts and ensure that Nottingham children receive the good standard of education they deserve.

Nottingham Labour Councillors and MP’s have written to the Department for Education expressing the views of parents and opposing cuts. Sherwood Councillors will continue to campaign against these cuts and fight for additional funding in Sherwood schools.

Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, Councillor Sam Webster said, “These budget cuts will mean cuts to important aspects of school life. Faced with reducing funds, schools in Nottingham will have to reduce services.

And it’s the added enrichment – the out of normal hours services, the holiday clubs, the breakfast clubs, the trips to broaden the horizons of our children, the reading sessions for parents, the extra-curricular sports, culture and arts activities – that I fear will be first to go.”

Nottingham Labour Committed to a Green Future

Nottingham Labour has all the right policies in place for our green future, such as the Nottingham Community Climate Change Strategy 2012-2020 and our commitments to Climate Local, the Nottingham Declaration, UK100 and a pledge to end fuel poverty.

We have a lot of programmes underway with existing funding.

  • Through Salix interest-free loans we have spent over £2m on energy efficiency on our buildings  since 2009, saving  £500, 000 a year and 4.5T of CO2.
  • We have used Government funding (HNDU) to pay for various feasibility and mapping studies to look at projects to expand or make more efficient the district heating scheme that should progress in the next few months.
  • Horizon 2020 (EU) funding has triggered the REMOURBAN programme of smart cities measures including deep retrofits (energy efficiency, generation, and storage) of 366 homes worth £5.5m (about 50% matched by tenants’ money).
  • The Big Six ECO scheme has enabled around 6000 homes to be fitted with external wall insulation – about 4000 social houses and 2000 private.  Match funding came from the rent account and Green Deal for Communities Fund.
  • We used Feed In Tariffs to fit 4000 homes with solar panels before the tariff dropped dramatically.
  • We have an Ultra Low Emission Vehicles programme (Government funding) for £6m of work on electric buses, rolling out electric car chargers, and helping businesses to switch fleet to electric.

But many of these funding streams have been stopped, reduced or will be withdrawn.

What we now need are clear proposals from Government on future funding.  We can make most schemes work, and would not invest unless we make a long-term saving, but we need certainty and stability of schemes.

It takes time to train a workforce in some of these skills (fitting solar panels, installing solid wall insulation and so on), and so many young people, nationwide, have been let down by training in a skill that is still needed but that people can no longer afford.

Our next set of schemes is ready, we can flex our priorities to meet Government targets, but we must ask what are their priorities now?

Our priorities are clear.  We want to lift residents out of fuel poverty when the figures are moving relentlessly the other way.  We want to attract whatever funding is available.  We want to engage with local communities.

Will there be energy proposals from Phillip Hammond in his Spring Budget?  I wonder.

Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability

Nottingham Works – Helping Young People into Employment and Training

Over the past year, Nottingham Works has helped hundreds of young people into work or training places. The programme, that is funded in partnership between Nottingham City Council and the European Union, provides mentoring for 18-29 year olds who are unemployed, Traineeships for 16-24 year olds and general careers support and guidance. The scheme also offers financial support to employers who create jobs for young people.

Nottingham Labour made a manifesto commitment in 2015 to guarantee a job, training place or further education place for every 18-24 year old in the city; that is why Nottingham City Council and Labour Councillors secured the £6.9 million in EU funding to make this project possible.

The scheme is designed to help young people, who are at risk of social exclusion, into work. Last year alone the scheme supported;

  • 550 people into the Intensive Careers Support programme

 

  • 124 people into Traineeship’s

 

  • 50 people into Nottingham North Traineeship’s

 

  • 199 people into the Step into Work programme

 

  • 30 employers through the Nottingham Jobs Fund Plus

In addition to supporting projects such as Nottingham Works, Nottingham Labour has helped to ensure that all entry level jobs and training places at Nottingham City Council are only available for city residents.

If you would like more information or to see what support is available to you, please visit the Nottingham Jobs or Nottingham City Council website.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day – Wednesday the 8th of March 2017

It’s a shocking statistic that, on average, two women every week are killed by their partner or ex-partner, and that 1 in 4 women will experience Domestic Violence (DV) in their lifetimes.   Sadly these figures haven’t changed for decades.  

We also learn this week that Nottinghamshire’s Police Force was rated ‘Inadequate’ in the way it identified and responded to vulnerable victims, with women reporting Domestic Violence highlighted as a concern.  They say they have already taken steps to address this.

Nottingham Labour has promised to cut the number of victims of crime by a fifth in the City.  Because of this we have made sure that Nottingham City Council support services for those experiencing Domestic Violence, such as Women’s Refuges, have been protected from cuts.  This is despite the £82M cut in funding handed down by the Tory Government over the last four years.

Progress made – more to be done

So although International Women’s Day is partly a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, the day also marks a call to action for improving the lives of women.

I’m proud of what the Labour Party achieved between 1997 and 2010 to help women dealing with Domestic Violence;

  • ‘Go’ orders, to remove a perpetrator from a property for 14-28 days.
  • specialist teams of Prosecutors to handle DV cases
  • IDVAs, Independent Domestic Violence Advocates to help women through the courts process.

Attitudes have changed so much that even the Tories have started to recognize the scale of the problem.  They’ve introduced;

  • Making controlling behavior and emotional abuse a crime
  • Stopping violent partners from cross-examining their victims in the family courts
  • More funding for women with complex needs, such as alcohol and drug dependence, for which Nottingham has received an extra £100,000.

And I cheered last week when the Labour policy of Compulsory Sex and Relationship Education was announced.  This will be introduced in all schools in England and will teach children a greater understanding of safe, respectful and healthy relationships.

The Women’s Quilt 

I’ve spent many hours over the last few months sewing patches for The Women’s Quilt.  The Quilt is made up of patchwork squares, each one containing the name of a woman killed by a partner or ex-partner between 2009 and 2015 – 598 squares.  The Quilt is being launched in the House of Commons at 11.30am today, International Women’s Day, just before Chancellor Philip Hammond announces his budget.  I hope it will soon be displayed in Nottingham.

The Quilt currently measures 3 metres by 3 metres square.  On International Women’s Day, although I have hope for the future, I still ask the question ‘How much bigger will the Quilt have to grow?’

 

If you are experience Domestic Abuse or Violence, or know someone who is, please call the 24 hour Helpline for help and advice.  0808 800 0340 – and 0341 for text phone with Language Line.

IF YOU OR A FRIEND IS IN DANGER PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO CALL 999.

Councillor Linda Woodings