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

Tribute to Former Leader Betty Higgins

Former Leader of Nottingham City Council Betty Higgins has died aged 92. Elected as a Labour councillor to what was then the Manvers Ward of the City Council in 1971, Mrs Higgins was Leader of the City Council from 1983-87 and again from 1991-93, and stood down as a councillor in 2003.

As the first female leader of the council, she was also recognised as one of the top 100 Women of Substance in Nottingham, for her continuous campaign for women’s voices to be heard and to make sure that women were represented in public, civic and community life. She was a great advocate of public service and of the public sector, believing in providing good services to local people and ensuring that services were available when they were needed. She was a councillor over a long period during which the city was transformed. Many neighbourhoods were remodelled and significant regeneration investment was attracted to the city at a time when traditional industries were being lost.

Betty will be greatly missed by those who worked with her and knew her. She was an exceptional council leader at a difficult political time when control of the council was in the balance. She led the authority in a very pragmatic and constructive way and was always motivated by the people and communities she served. She made sure their voices were heard and was a role model and an inspiration for many Nottingham people. She had the foresight to keep Nottingham City Transport in public ownership – one of only a handful in the country which are managing to avoid the problems privatisation brought to other areas. It’s one of Betty’s lasting legacies that NCT is a national award-winning bus company that’s a key part of our excellent public transport system.

Conservative Controlled Authorities in Crisis with Their Finances

Increasingly we see Conservative controlled authorities in crisis with their finances despite less cuts and preferential treatment when it comes to the Government’s funding formula.

Last year the ‘negative RSG’ funding by the Conservative Government saw Surrey County Council as one of the biggest winners receiving £17.3m from the new scheme after previously pocketing £24.1m of transition grant in 2016. It’s outrageous that the Government chooses to bail out councils in better-off areas of the south when poorer councils in the North and Midlands in areas with higher need are losing out.

Despite their preferential treatment, Conservative controlled council’s losing control of their finances. Some examples of this include:

The Conservative Party is showing themselves both unfair and incompetent when it comes to managing money. Nottingham people and others across the North and Midlands are losing out on millions of pounds of extra funding which would help support the vital council services they rely on.

Conservative Government Has Reduced Funding to Nottingham by Three Quarters Since 2013

Since 2013 the Conservative Government has cut its main source of funding to Nottingham from £127 million to just £25 million. At the same time the cost of care for the elderly and vulnerable young people is rising, meaning the Conservative Government is making Nottingham people pay more for less.

What makes this worse and totally unfair is the blatant favouring by Government of affluent southern areas which have received much more in grants despite areas like Nottingham needing it more. They have also received special grants to soften the blow of cuts which places like Nottingham need more but missed out on altogether. Following the Government’s £300 million of extra ‘transition funding’ announced in 2016, which overwhelmingly benefitted more affluent councils in the South, the Government last year proposed ‘negative RSG’ compensation worth £153 million with a rigged criteria which saw 85% of it going to Conservative controlled authorities predominantly in the South East and South West.

This year alone Nottingham is being forced by the Government to make £22m of savings over the next three years, which will have a series a significant impact on local services. Though we have continued to carry out a range of commercial activities which bring in over £20m a year to offset the cuts and key services that many councils are cutting are being protected as much as possible here in Nottingham, including children’s centres and libraries, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, keeping the city clean, protecting children and supporting vulnerable elderly people, every year it is becoming harder.

Manifesto 2019 – Serving Nottingham Better

Nottingham Labour want to make sure that local people can access the best possible services from Nottingham City Council and from their councillors. Nottingham Labour councillors are the only local representatives with a track record of being on the side of local people and standing up to protect services and spending for Nottingham.

Since 2015, we are proud to have achieved:

  • Created 3 new joint services centres in Dales, Hyson Green and Strelley, bringing library, Police, NHS and welfare advice under one roof for local people.
  • 70p of every pound spent by the City Council is spent with Nottingham businesses.
  • Raised more than £20 million in income from commercial activities to reinvest into public services.
  • Provided almost 250 young people with apprenticeships at the City Council and supported 2/3 of them into permanent jobs.
  • Supported Nottingham Credit Union to provide ethical and sustainable finance and borrowing to more Nottingham people.

Conservatives nationally have led 8 years of ideologically driven funding cuts to councils, which are putting local services at risk and failing to recognise changing demographics or show ambition for cities like Nottingham. Since 2013/14,, Nottingham has lost more than £100million in government Revenue Support Grant funding. Local Conservatives have repeatedly failed to stand up against these cuts. We are committed to ensuring Nottingham people get value for money in their council services and that is why if elected in May we will:

  • Deliver an integrated benefit, housing aid, Futures and DWP service under one roof at Nottingham City Council’s head office.
  • Become the country’s most commercial council, bringing in at least £4 million more from commercial activiities to support services local people rely on.
  • Allow neighbourhoods to invest and run their own local community hubs and assets through Community Asset Trusts.
  • Ensure Nottingham City Council jobs pay at least the living wage and wherever possible, commission services from organisation that do the same.
  • Work with local businesses to create a £2.5 million fund which provides 500 new apprentices for people from diverse backgrounds.

Download the full Nottingham Labour 2019 manifesto.

Manifesto 2019 – Living in Nottingham

There are many things about Nottingham that make it a great place to live, work, learn and have fun. We have the best public transport in the UK outside of London, many affordable and good quality homes and a wealth of green and beautiful parks and open spaces enjoyed by thousands of Nottingham residents.

We have a strong record on making Nottingham a better place to live. Some of our best achievements since 2015 have been:

  • Introduced a selective licensing scheme, meaning that 97% of private rented homes in the city are now regulated and standards are on the up.
  • 2500 homes that Nottingham people can afford to rent or buy built or in progress.
  • Invested £1.2 million in 23 play areas across the city.
  • Introduced energy efficiency measures to more council homes, including solar panels to a further 1366 homes and secured over £4.8 million to fund further improvements.
  • Created an integrated oyster style transport tickets, the Robin Hood Card, which is now used by more than 50,000 people.

We’re proud of Nottingham and we want to keep making our city an even better, more exciting place to live. Over the next 4 years, Nottingham Labour wants to help make our city an ever better place to live.

  • Provide settled homes as emergency accommodation for homeless people instead of bed and breakfasts and introduce a “no first night out” policy for rough sleepers to ensure no one need sleep rough in Nottingham.
  • Fill 50,000 potholes, replace 250 pavements and resurface 100 roads.
  • Complete the development of and reopen Nottingham Castle as major national heritage attraction.
  • Deliver an annual kerbside collection of unwanted bulky waste items for every resident.
  • Double the number of residents using Robin Hood Energy and continue to provide extra discounts for those who live in the city.

Download a full copy of the Nottingham Labour 2019 manifesto.

Manifesto 2019 – Growing Nottingham

Nottingham Labour wants to develop a thriving local economy where local businesses grow and prosper, money is spent in the local economy and there are jobs and careers available for local people. In the last four years some of the things we have achieved include:

  • Supported 8000 people into work through the Nottingham Jobs Fund.
  • Established Nottingham as one of the best UK cities for business start ups.
  • Established a creative industries hub and a centre for excellence for environmental technology.
  • Supported Nottingham College to secure £58million for a new City College Hub on Broadmarsh East site with construction underway.
  • Revitalised Bulwell and Clifton town centre through transport investment and a targeted action plan.

We want to create an attractive and vibrantcity that has all the services people need, recognising the changing uses of the city centre and embracing the opportunities this presents. We’ll promote a thriving economy where businesses invest and prosper and our city and neighbourhoods are at their best. And this will ensure that Nottingham people benefit from more jobs and increased prosperity. Some of the things we will do if elected in May include:

  • Redevelop the south side of the city centre, including completing the college, library and Broadmarsh carpark, bus station and shopping centre.
  • Reduce the number of empty shops from 15% to below 10%% and return Nottingham to the top 6 retails rankings outside London.
  • Bring 20 vacant sites back into use to provide employment opportunities for local people.
  • Continue to guarantee a job, training or further education place for all 18-24 year olds.
  • Ensure the development of at least 500,000 square feet of Grade A office space to encourage inward investment in the city.

Download the full Nottingham Labour 2019 manifesto.

Manifesto 2019 – Respect for Nottingham

Nottingham Labour remains committed to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and encouraging different communities to live together and get on well. Here are some of our achievements since 2015 to help keep people safer:

  • 100 Community Protection Officers working across all wards of the city.
  • Reduced the number of repeat victims of domestic violence down by more than a third.
  • Increased the reporting of hate crime by 89%.
  • Protected Environmental Health Officers from cuts, making sure Nottingham’s restaurants are properly regulated and inspected.
  • Ensured Nottingham City Homes take a tough line on tenants involved in drug dealing, knife and gun crime.

Nottingham Labour wants to work with the Police to achieve our mutual vision of a safer Nottingham and believe now we are far better placed than 4 years ago to do just that. To keep Nottingham people safer, some of the things we will do include:

  • Create a dedicated noise nuisance hotline and respond to complaints of noisy neighbours in 48 hours.
  • Work with at least 500 young people each year at risk of becoming involved in gangs and knife crime or at risk of exploitation.
  • Campaign to increase the number of Police Officers and PCSOs on Nottingham’s streets.
  • Host an extensive programmes of community events and activities to bring people together in every neighbourhood, reflecting and celebrating our diversity.
  • Create a Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy,working with our partners including the Police, transport providers and venues to address the safety of women and girls in their homes and their communities.

Download the full Nottingham Labour 2019 manifesto.