Tag: budget

Nottingham Labour Statement on further intervention

This morning we were notified by government that they are minded to appoint commissioners to oversee some parts of the City Council. The appointment of commissioners would be unjustified, and an attack on our local democracy. Under new leadership, Nottingham Labour have been making progress, being open about the difficulties we face and working hard to put things right. We have worked with the government appointed Improvement and Assurance Board to address all their concerns and they have reported positively to Government about our progress.

This work has resulted in the reduction in council debt, a transformation plan that will save the council £45m and improve services for Nottingham people. We have set a four year balanced budget, and have changed the culture and governance so that issues like the HRA are uncovered, shared transparently and sorted. The Council under the current leadership has made significant changes to the way it works, is open about the issues we face and is determined to get things right and this has been recognised by the Improvement and Assurance Board.

The Improvement and Assurance Board, headed by Sir Tony Redmond – the former Local Government Ombudsman – have described our progress positively to government and reported on our determination to succeed, so we are asking government what additional change they expect to achieve by bringing in people who know nothing of the City and our residents’ needs. Although we oppose the Governments’ intention to appoint commissioners the continuity provided by Sir Tony Redmond provides some assurance that our previous improvements are understood and can be built on.

But, we are asking what new actions would happen as a result of commissioners coming in that would improve the working of this council, or result in any changes that Nottingham people would want. We will use our opportunity to respond to this proposal from Government to ask these questions.

If it is the case that the government does take this action, this will be based not on what is best for the city, but what is best for the Conservative Party.

We will of course work positively and openly with commissioners, as we have with the Improvement and Assurance Board in the best interests of our city, but we will be straight with them, and straight with Nottingham people and will continue to fight for what Nottingham people need and have elected a Labour council to do.

The government cuts to our budgets means that it is more difficult to do everything we want to do to help our communities at this time but we have been fighting for Nottingham and protecting our services against the worst effects of Tory cuts. We made sure that Nottingham City Council – and our amazing staff – were there for you during the Covid crisis and we fought hard to get what we needed for our city to help keep people safe.

After more than a decade of Tory austerity – and the pandemic – we have managed to set a four year balanced budget. This has not been easy, but Nottingham Labour: Has retained 75 community protection officers Are still building council houses and have improved private rented housing through our licensing scheme Has kept ownership of our outstanding care homes Is still running six leisure centres Is supporting Welfare Rights advice services across the city because we defend what is needed by Nottingham people.

We are still supporting free events for families all year round, and you can still expect a regular bus service to get you there from our award winning city owned bus company. We have our own bus company because Labour protected it, when many others were sold off to private operators and they are now seeing more cancelled services and far higher fares. We invested in a tram that brings good jobs to the city and gets people to them. Our great public transport system has contributed to cleaner air than other cities in the UK and made people less reliant on a car.

The transformation of the Broadmarsh is underway after the shopping centre operator went into administration, a new central library will soon be fitted out, a green space in the heart of our city will be created and new developments creating jobs and homes will be coming in the next few years.

We are a city of hardworking people and Nottingham deserves better than intervention from an out of touch Tory government that is more concerned with protecting the profits of the energy companies than the people who can’t heat their homes or struggle to feed their families. We understand what twelve years of Tory austerity and now the cost of living crisis means to you, because we do not just represent our communities, we are part of them. We will carry on fighting for what Nottingham needs and will still be ready to help with the problems you are facing, or hear your views and hopes for the city.

City Council Leader Responds to “Levelling Up” Announcement

Today Nottingham City Council Leader, Cllr David Mellen responded to the Government’s long overdue “Levelling Up” White Paper, cautiously welcoming the next steps on devolution but highlighting that these words do little to reverse the damage that twelve years of unprecedented Conservative cuts has caused to Nottingham. 

Cllr Mellen said: “Nottingham people will hear the Government talking about ‘levelling up’ today, but they will wonder what it really means for them in their daily lives and what it means for the place they call home. That is the big test for the Government.

“Words from Government Ministers won’t deal with the soaring cost of energy and food or assist with the enormous pressures on household budgets. In April many of the people I represent will see big increases in National Insurance, steeply rising prices for home-energy and the government’s adult social care levy added to Council Tax bills yet again.

“I’ve worked proactively with colleagues in other Councils across Nottinghamshire to make the case to government about the investment our area desperately needs after 12 long years of cuts and underfunding.

“We’ve always been pro- devolution in Nottingham, but detail in terms of additional powers and new investment must be forthcoming. If Government is serious about genuine devolution for our area it has to be about more investment, better transport infrastructure, higher skills for local people and creating more good jobs in our area.

“The East Midlands region has suffered greatly over the past decade with chronic under investment. Our residents and our businesses expect and deserve much better than the sustained funding cuts we’ve seen and the huge regional funding variations with the East Midlands often losing out.

“If the government is finally recognising that to create stronger regional growth that the investment is required I absolutely welcome that.

“It is imperative that the Minister matches his word with deeds and begins to deliver in a meaningful way.  As a Core City, Nottingham has much to be proud of and much to build on. We have ambitious plans to truly unlock the potential of our area and be at the heart of growth in our region, plans that are ready to be put into action if we get the green light on funding.

“I urge the government to work with us, to adequately fund local public services, which continue to be under severe strain, to invest in the huge potential of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands and to start to deliver for people.”

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.

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.