Nottingham Labour delivers three school expansions to create 480 school places for Nottingham children by 2020

Three Nottingham City schools will expand by the end of 2019, creating 480 school places and 26 nursery places.

The three schools are:

  • Westbury Special School in Bilborough, which will have 60 additional primary and secondary places by August 2018, following investment of £4.75m
  • Glade Hill Primary School in Bestwood, which will have 210 additional primary places and 26 additional nursery places by September 2019, following investment of £1.8m
  • Middleton Primary School in Wollaton, which will have 210 additional primary places by December 2019, following investment of £4.1m

These expansions come under Nottingham Labour’s wider £41.9 million expansion plan to create thousands of extra school places across the city, and are the last three schools to be expanded as part of this programme.

This phase of expansions will create new teaching, teaching support and other in-school jobs along with additional employment and training opportunities during construction.

We are investing in our schools because we know there is a demand for places. Nottingham is growing economically, new homes are being built and more families are choosing to live and work here. Nottingham Labour is committed to providing a good school place, close to home for every child in Nottingham City.

Our careful planning and continued investment means that we have enough primary school places to meet the current and future demand. Last year we were able to offer every Nottingham child a school place, with nearly 95% of children being offered a place at their first or second-choice primary school – up 2% from the previous year.

We now want to build on this success and create 2,250 more secondary school places by 2022 and will be bidding for funding to do so.

Councillor Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills

Give Nottingham children a good start in life with books

Making a good start in education depends on lots of things. The welcome and environment that is provided in a school or nursery is vital, but so much more depends on the experiences that a child has had at home before they start school. Children who have been played with, talked with and read with are more likely to succeed that those who haven’t had lots of those experiences. That’s why in Nottingham, trying to ensure that every child lots of story books to share with adults and enjoy themselves is a priority for us and why working with the Dolly Parton Foundation is so important. We believe that giving children those early literacy skills that are gained from being regularly read to, right from birth, is one of the greatest gifts that we can give children. So we are aiming to get books to children on a regular basis.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, begun in Tennessee  and now operating all over the world, sends quality children’s books through the post to children from birth up until their 5th birthday for the cost of only £2.05 per book, and currently, through a variety of donations from businesses and individuals, as well as Big Lottery funding in 4 wards of the city, 4000 children have a book drop on their front doormat every month.

We aren’t satisfied with that and are keen that more of our city’s 21,000 under 5s get this opportunity. So in 2018 we are redoubling our efforts to enlarge this scheme, which has been proven to make children 28% more ready for school if they are on the scheme for at least 3 years.

I’m kicking off the year with a challenge to read stories to at least 2018 children and raise at least £2018. It would be great if you could support me with a donation, no matter how small. Our children deserve this chance.

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/2018children

Cllr David Mellen
Portfolio Holder for Early Years and Early Education

Conservatives force Nottingham people to pay more money while receiving less

Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, they have taken £230 million from Nottingham City Council and offered no answers or additional money to help with the growing pressure of care for the elderly. This leaves Nottingham residents paying more money but receiving less as underfunded council services are pushed to their tipping point.

Nottingham Labour has sought to protect frontline services from Conservative cuts as best it can. Over the past seven years we have prioritised key areas such as children’s centres, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, keeping Nottingham as the UK’s cleanest city and protecting children and supporting vulnerable elderly people. This is becoming harder though as the government takes money away from Nottingham and the costs of care for the elderly rises. Despite lots of chances to offer a solution, the Conservative only have one answer; pass the bill onto local people.

This year the Conservatives will take another £9.5 million from Nottingham’s government support grant while the cost of social care budget in Nottingham is expected to rise by £10 million. Instead of the Conservative government taking responsibility to deal with this issue and offer help through fair local government funding, they are expecting Nottingham residents to plug the gap by paying more in their Council tax. If the Government does not offer local authorities funding for social care then it will come at the expense of other local servicers that we all use and rely on.

The government has shown consistently it can give local authorities money when they want. In February of 2017, the Conservatives gave the much more affluent Surrey County Council a sweetheart deal following concerns about its financial position. Similarly, though Nottingham has lost £71 per household more affluent neighbours such as Rutland have actually gained £44 per household. Finally, 80% of a £300 million transition grant that was made available went to more affluent southern authorities that are Conservative controlled.

If they are able to find money for these areas, they should be able to find money for areas like Nottingham where levels of deprivation are greater. Until the Government produces a settlement which is based on level of need, they are just forcing Nottingham people to pay for more while receiving less.

Nottingham’s small businesses lead the way – Councillor Sam Webster

A recent national report has placed Nottingham number one for small business growth in England. The report was compiled following a survey of 1200 small business owners. In Nottingham business confidence levels were high.

Community support is strong for our local, independent businesses and this has an impact on their chances of survival and success. The report said that 65% of Nottingham people shop locally. Good access to high speed internet was also highlighted as a factor, an area that the Labour-run City Council has supported and funded for many years.

Read the Invest in Nottingham article here: http://www.investinnottingham.com/nottingham-is-englands-top-city-for-small-business-growth,-report-says

Councillor Sam Webster

Autumn statement gives nothing for Nottingham’s schools or social care sector

An autumn statement that says nothing on schools or social care is not an autumn statement preparing Nottingham for the future but one that is ignoring the real problems cities like ours face.

The Chancellor has missed the chance to invest in the skills and potential of Nottingham’s young people and has shown no vision to deal with the rising level of demand in adult and child social care that is pushing the City Councils finances to the limit.

The Government’s education funding formula this summer would see Nottingham’s schools lose £22 million in real terms, which is over £500 per pupil. Taking this amount of money away from Nottingham’s schools will result in overcrowded classrooms that are not properly equipped, damaging the life chances of Nottingham’s young people. An autumn statement that was serious about preparing Britain for the future would be giving schools in Nottingham more money so that we can give our young people the skills need in the future job market.

In social care the government has revealed how unaware it is of the biggest challenge Britain is going to face. There is currently a £2 billion funding gap in social care and by not committing any extra funding in the Autumn Statement the Chancellor is making that gap worse. Demand is rising as we become and older population. In 2039, the number of people aged 75 and over will be 9.9 million. A Government preparing for the future should be making the proper funding of social care its number one priority.

Along with this, there is no relief for Council budgets. Since 2010, the Government has taken £200 million from Nottingham, which has resulted in Nottingham people paying more for fewer services. Seven years of cuts to councils like Nottingham has not helped pay down Britain’s debt either, as the Government is set to add an extra £90 billion worth of debt over the life of this Parliament. To add to this the Conservatives are damaging Britain’s economic success and growth is revised down.  

The Conservatives simply have no vision for the country or for Nottingham,  and are not prepared to face the economic challenges that we face.

 

Nottingham Labour delivers a “great transport system” says Tory Minister

The Tory Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited Labour run Nottingham this week and praised the cities infrastructure as the example to follow for integrated transport. He commented on how Nottingham was ahead of other areas of the country, seeing how decades of Labour investment has created for Nottingham the kind of transport system that we want to see around the country.

Nottingham has been a Labour Council that’s known that investment in infrastructure is the right thing to do. It is good to see that the Conservatives and Government has finally caught up with the work Nottingham Labour has been doing for decades. In Nottingham, there is an effective and efficient integrated transport system for the city. The introduction of the Robin Hood payment scheme has allowed for cross-operator and cross-transport payments within Nottingham. This is complimented by more integrated service lines with Nottingham Train Station acting as a transport hub for trains, trams, bikes and, buses. There have also been improvements for cyclists around Nottingham with the introduction of specific cycle routes, better access to the city centre and the implementation of a city-wide bike hiring scheme.

The government’s policy to scrap the electrification of the Midlands Mainline is limiting what more we can do however. This increase in speed and the beneficial environmental impacts are vital for Nottingham’s future transport needs. The governments proposed bi-powered trains simply do not provide the same benefits as rail electrification, are far more expensive, and have rightly been criticised by the Council and Nottingham’s Labour MPs.

There are also been an unfair distribution of transport spending from the Government that is holding back Nottingham’s potential with London too often being prioritised over the East Midlands. London currently receives £2,592.68 per head for transport compared to the East Midlands which only receives £218.94 per head. The fact the Government chose to give a £30 billion cheque to London and the South East for Crossrail 2 instead of £700 million for Nottingham and the electrification of the Midlands Mainline is another example of how the Government has wrongly prioritised its transport spending.

If there is more money coming for Transport, Nottingham needs its fair share to continue the success we have had in building an exemplar transport system.  

 

More Nottingham care leavers are entering employment, education or training

This year 67% of Nottingham City Care Leavers are either in employment, education or training, a significant increase on last year that places Nottingham as one of the best local authorities in the country for the future prospects of Care Leavers.

A designated Leaving Care service which solely works with those aged 18-25 has managed to support a significant number of Nottingham’s Care Leavers, with individual support packages that enhance their abilities and teach new skills, providing them with practical support for interviews and job applications. This ultimately provides them with the opportunity to live independent and successful lives after leaving our care service.

The priority that we have given to this area of our work is reflected in the fact that it forms a manifesto target, where we have pledged to offer apprenticeships or permanent jobs to 10% of care leavers within the council, setting an example to other employers with our own practice. To deliver this, the Leaving Care Service is working closely with the Nottingham Apprenticeship Scheme.

Further and higher education has also proved attainable for Care leavers, and we are proud of the 16 Nottingham care leavers who are currently at University. Work to ensure that care leavers have appropriate and additional pastoral support from FE providers is taking place through identifying designated contacts and improving communication between providers and Personal Advisors. The impact of this is starting to be seen, with examples of more collaborative and earlier support being implemented when issues arise, resulting in college places being sustained.

This approach has led to year on year success. In 2016/17 Nottingham City had 58.7% of care leavers aged 19 – 21 in education, employment or training and the average for local authorities who are similar to ours was 47.7%, meaning we are well out performing other parts of the country. We are also proud of the work and progress we have achieved and are particularly proud of our staff in the Council and Futures Advice who are providing Nottingham’s Care Leavers with the support and help they need.

We are not complacent however, and will continue to work hard to maintain and build on this progress.

Councillor David Mellen,
Portfolio Holder for Early Years and Early Intervention

Conservative Councillors voted against Nottingham Labour’s call for a pause to Universal Credit.

Conservative Councillors voted against Nottingham Labour’s motion calling on the Government to pause the rollout of Universal Credit before it hits our City, supporting a Government policy which is pushing more people into debt and homelessness.

Given the failures identified by pilot schemes and concerns raised by the Work and Pensions Committee, we have  urged the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit full service before it is imposed on the citizens of Nottingham.

Currently 2785 people in Nottingham are on Universal Credit, with the full service roll out to be imposed on Nottingham by 2022, which will affect nearly 60,000 city residents. Multiple failures have already been exposed by pilot schemes across the country, with places like Newcastle seeing one in five people waiting longer than six weeks to receive their benefits, and nearly 3000 people pushed into rent arrears as a result. Research has established that Universal Credit will eventually reach more than one in four working-age households and families of which more than half of these will be in work. Ultimately, the people likely to be most affected are disabled people including those with mental health problems and those in low-paid work.

The Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee has criticised the scheme, with the committee accusing the Government of withholding bad news on the scale of problems caused by Universal Credit, amid growing concern that the changes are forcing more people into debt and poverty.

We’ve only had a limited experience of Universal Credit so far in Nottingham but we’re already seeing rent arrears rising along with more debt problems. The Government needs to see sense and pause the full introduction of Universal Credit in Nottingham .

By voting against our motion, Conservative Councillors have shown disregard for the thousands of Nottingham people that will be made poorer as a result of Universal Credit.

Nottingham Labour approves fire sprinkler works despite governments broken promise on funding

We have approved £8.4 million worth of sprinkler installations and other safety measures in 13 high rise blocks in Nottingham City, despite the government breaking its promise to properly fund “whatever the experts tell us to make people safe”.

Following the tragic events in Grenfell earlier this year, Nottingham City Council worked with Nottingham City Homes, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue and local tenants to review all of the high rise blocks in Nottingham. All the blocks have current fire risk assessments and are fully compliant with current regulations. To reassure tenants that all was being done to make their buildings safe though, we took the decision to install sprinklers within the high rise blocks along with improvements to other safety measures.

Council leaders welcomed the promise by Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, who committed the government to doing all that was necessary to make people safe. As Housing Portfolio Holder, I wrote to the government asking for the funding for these safety improvements, and was dismayed when the government responded with a categorical no, describing the installation of sprinklers as “additional rather than essential”.

It is simply unbelievable that the Government has backtracked on its commitment to provide support to councils. In the same week as describing fire safety improvements for high rise blocks in Nottingham as additional, the government managed to find £100 million for the installation of sprinklers in the Houses of Parliament. The government again shows it simply has the wrong priorities.

We will go ahead despite the government breaking its promise to provide the funding. They are too important not to go ahead and we have taken the decision to use money from our capital budget. This however, will mean fewer new homes being built in Nottingham, despite the government saying it wants Councils building more and less money available to keep our existing 26,000 homes in good repair.

These are the consequences when government does not fairly fund local authorities.

Councillor Jane Urquhart,
Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage.

10.5 million families to be on average £450 worse off per year

A new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that poorer families are set to see big cash losses due to a combination of the Conservative Government’s freeze on benefits, including in-work benefits and higher than expected inflation.

The IFS said on their web site:

“The Office for National Statistics announced that inflation in the year to September was 3.0%. Normally the September inflation figure is used to uprate benefit levels and tax thresholds the following April. However, current government policy is to freeze most working-age benefits in cash terms until March 2020. Combined with the latest inflation forecasts, today’s number means that the 4-year freeze is now expected to reduce entitlements in 2019–20 by an average of £450 per year for the 10.5 million households affected.

We can see that Conservative Party policies are having a detrimental impact on the incomes and living standards of millions of families in Britain and this includes thousands of families, with children in Nottingham. Since the Brexit vote last year inflation has been rising, due in part to the weakness of the British pound and this is driving up everyday costs for people. At the same time as process are rising in-work benefits are frozen and so many people are being hit hard in the pocket.

The situation has serious consequences for everyday family finances as well as the wider economic effect of people having less spending power. It’s now urgent that the Government looks again at the real impact their policies are having on Nottingham families.

Cllr Sam Webster

Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills