Roses are red,
violets are blue,
if you have money for Surrey,
can we have some too?
Congratulations on your new appointment.
With the Local Government Association indicating that Surrey is set to receive an additional £26million of Government funding while Nottingham is set to lose another £14million I wanted to write to urge you to change course.
Ahead of your first Budget I’m asking you to begin to restore the resources that your predecessors have taken away from Nottingham.
Nottingham has had its main Government grant cut by £102 million since 2013, at a time when demand for services like care for the elderly and protecting vulnerable children have been rising.
In Nottingham over the last 9 years we’ve had to save £267 million, due in large part to Government funding cuts. We’ve been innovative and improved efficiency.
We’ve implemented a range of commercial and trading activities which bring in over £20 million a year to help fund local services. We have prioritised vital front line services and tried to protect our most vulnerable residents.
The funding cuts imposed by your Government have gone too far, they’ve hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, they mean that local people are having to pay more to fill the funding gap and without new resources are putting vital public services and the financial stability of councils at risk. Just like in other local areas up and down the country we’ve had to cut services, increase some charges and increase council tax in an attempt to counter the funding cuts.
There are three specific areas I would ask you to prioritise to ease the pressure on our financial position and help us to unlock Nottingham’s potential:
- Social Care Green Paper – Care for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people are the biggest areas of expenditure in Nottingham. The LGA has warned there will be a £6.7 billion spending gap in children’s and adult social care services by 2025. Since March 2017 we have been waiting for the Government’s Social Care Green Paper but its publication has been delayed time and time again. A clear plan for how local authorities continue to provide social care services as demand rises is essential for the long term financial sustainability of councils.
- Fair Infrastructure Funding – There is a serious disparity in spending on infrastructure between regions. London gets £3636 spent per head compared to just £741 per person for the East Midlands. Projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline have been shelved while projects like London’s £30 billion Crossrail 2 are set to go ahead.
- Funding Based on Need – Cuts to local authorities have disproportionately fallen on urban areas with higher levels of deprivation. Since 2011 Nottingham has lost £529 spending power per household compared to wealthier areas like Surrey which have gained £19 per household. A new funding formula is needed that recognises the differences between areas of the country and has need at its heart.
Councils do so much to transform local communities and economies, but given adequate resources and powers we can do much more. As a Chancellor delivering his first Budget you have an opportunity to work with us rather than against us.
The people of Nottingham will be watching closely on 11th March to see if you’ll begin to return to us some of the funding that’s been taken away.
Cllr Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and City Centre