The £9m Gap

Let us start by defining the problem and with three very significant facts.

First, there have been weekly declarations of black alerts at Nottingham University Hospitals. A black alert is when there are no spare beds at the hospital for incoming emergency cases.

Second, nationally there has been a 40% increase in bed blocking, when people can’t leave hospital for want of care at home, which for the most part is provided by councils.

Third, it costs £2500 to keep a patient in a hospital bed on average, and £450 to care for the same patient at home.

So the logical and practical thing to do would be to increase the amount of cash available to councils. This would allow councils to relieve the pressure on hospitals and effectively to save money.

But this has not happened. Indeed the opposite has been the case. Councils, including Nottingham, have not only had to cater for an ever increasing number of elderly and disabled. They have not only had to find additional money for the minimum wage. But the very budgets we use to pay for services like adult care have been substantially reduced by the very government which is expecting us to do more. So, this year in Nottingham, there is a £10m gap, and this is simply to keep the service going.

This is not just a Nottingham phenomenon, it is happening across England. The Government’s response has been belated this year, as it was last year, and it has been to try and bridge some of the gap by requesting an increase of 3% in the council tax.

I have two things to say about this.

First, this 3% levy will still leave a £7m gap so is inadequate. Second, resorting to council tax rises is unsustainable, especially in poorer areas. Poorer areas have a lower council tax base but a higher demand for adult care. So the council tax rises are far more punitive and far less able to cover the costs than in better off areas.

This means that councils all over the country are left with a problem:  do is they increase the council tax knowing it is unfair, regressive and not fit for purpose and should be funded centrally: or are they  prepared to see a service for the most vulnerable elderly and disabled deteriorate, and bed blocking in hospitals increase further still.

The whole situation reveals a real failure of planning and coordination by central Government.

It took until the last minute for government to realise the problem in 2016 and announce the 2% council tax – a levy which given the magnitude of the problem, is nothing more than a sticking plaster. Far from tackling the problem with a longer term solution, it has simply repeated the exercise with yet another 3% plaster in 2017. This tells me they have no plan. To have no plan when the NHS is in crisis and the crisis was so predictable and when it actually costs more not to provide for council adult service, is a dereliction of duty.

All I can say at this stage is that we in this council will do our utmost to keep the service going. It will be a priority; but will be at the expense of other services and, if we can come to arrangements with the Local Clinical Commissioning group which we will have to, it will be at the expense of other parts the NHS.

But in the end, there has to be a long term solution and that solution has to include more money; and more money means more tax to pay for it. I would start with corporation tax but that is my view.

What is clear is that we can’t go on as a nation with the immature approach we have; that decent key public services can be provided on the back of ever increasing number of efficiencies and we do not have to pay.

In my view we are past the point of relying on efficiencies some time ago. It’s just that government hasn’t realised it and virtually every council, every hospital and thousands of patients are now seeing the consequences.

 

Cllr Graham Chapman

Deputy Leader, Nottingham City Council

Youth Takeover Day

Last Friday, 25th of November, young people from the Youth Cabinet and Children in Care Council joined Councillors, Council officers and MP’s in Nottingham as part of a youth takeover day within the City.

The programme was part of the Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Challenge, a national initiative to encourage organisations to engage with children and young people.

The day offered young people an insight into making decisions and gave them the chance to put their opinions forward. The scheme was also designed to give Councillors, and others who were buddied up with the young people, new ideas and a fresh approach to the way they work.

Labour Councillors involved included myself, Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years and the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Jackie Morris. Young people joined also joined Nottingham South MP, Lilian Greenwood and Gedling MP, Vernon Coaker.

Teams of young people took over the restaurant at Loxley House, designing the menu and cooking for the day, as well as taking over the Communications and Marketing team at Nottingham City Council.

Nottingham Labour is committed to engaging with young people and we believe offering these sorts of experiences can be a great way for people to find out what they might want to do in the future.

Last year the Children’s Partnership Board adopted a new Participation Strategy to ensure the voice of young citizens is embedded in the decision-making processes of the Council and its partners.

Additionally the Youth Cabinet and Children in Care Council are excellent initiatives that aim to engage young people with politics.

Cllr Sam Webster

Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment & Skills

Nottingham Labour Launches 2015 Manifesto

Nottingham Labour is proud to launch its manifesto for the 2015 local elections.

We are proud of the achievements we have made over the past 4 years- with unemployment down by more than a quarter from 6% to 4.3%, crime down by 14% and anti-social behaviour halved, more than 90% of school leavers getting a job, training or further education placement, all neighbourhoods as clean as the city centre and thousands of homes insulated and solar panels installed to help keep energy bills down.

We are excited to build on the progress as we set out our vision to make our city even better over the next four years.

Our 5 key pledges if elected to run the Council in May will be to;

  1. Ensure every child in Nottingham is taught in a school judged good or outstanding by OFSTED,
  2. Build 2500 new homes that Nottingham people can afford to rent or buy,
  3. Cut the number of victims of crime by a fifth and continue to reduce anti-social behaviour.
  4. Tackle fuel poverty by setting up a not-forprofit energy company to sell energy at the lowest possible price to Nottingham people,
  5. Guarantee a job, training place or further education place for every 18-24 year old.

We’re committed to making Nottingham the best place it can be for everyone who lives, works, does business and relaxes here. And we believe that only with a Labour Council can the city reach its full potential.