Nottingham City Council is to launch a consultation on 20 December on savings proposals to balance the budget for 2023/24.
If accepted at the council’s Executive Board next Tuesday, the proposals would go £29m towards filling the budget gap of £32.2m – meaning a further £3.2m will need to be found by February.
The council must set a balanced budget by law – but will not discover until after the consultation is launched funds will be allocated to Nottingham in its final allocation of the Revenue Support Grant. The amount given to the city has fallen from £126.8m a decade ago to £26.7m last year. This is the equivalent of £694 less this year for every household in Nottingham.
As well as the inflation pressures, the council has needed to budget for an unfunded, nationally-agreed pay increase for hardworking council staff which comes without any additional funding from Government – though it is the least keyworkers deserve and represents a real-terms cut when inflation is considered.
Cllr Adele Williams, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance in Nottingham, said:
“When Rishi Sunak spoke at a Tunbridge Wells garden party during his campaign to be leader of the Conservative Party, he said: ‘I managed to start changing the funding formulas, to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserve because we inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone. I started the work of undoing that.’
“This is what levelling up looks like. The Tory Towns Fund goes to Tory towns. Places like Nottingham are drained of funds, and it is boasted about. We are not deprived: we are held back, limited by the decade of Tory austerity.
“Nottingham people, like many other communities in the UK, are not on a level playing field. Children starting their lives in low-income households find it harder to do well at school, harder to live healthy lives, harder to progress into well paid jobs. Our economy – and funding for local services – is rigged to benefit the most well off. We need, and deserve, better.
“Once again, we are consulting with the city on budget proposals to save millions. We began the financial year with a broadly balanced Medium Term Financial Plan but that has been blown out of the water by inflation.
“The brief but disastrous reign of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng exacerbated an already terrible situation for ordinary people and the impact of that will be felt in interest rates, rampant inflation and the escalating cost of living crisis that has seen more and more households falling into hardship.
“The government has shifted responsibility to local council taxpayers to fund statutory areas such as adult and children’s social care and the costs of homelessness. This is funded through both council tax and the adult social care precept, introduced in 2016 to make local people pay for the Conservative failure to fix the scandal of adult social care funding.
“Council tax is a completely unfair way to fund local services, and this can be seen most sharply in a city like Nottingham where high demand for social care sits alongside a very low local tax base where 80% of us live in band A or B households where it is harder to raise tax locally.
“The defunding of cities like Nottingham, which Rishi Sunak talked about, has further disadvantaged local people. The adult social care precept is an inadequate sticking plaster that costs local taxpayers dear but doesn’t fix the problem that the government said they themselves would address, back when Boris Johnson promised on the steps of Downing Street to fix adult social care. We are still waiting for that. Whilst we wait, Nottingham council taxpayers are hit by the cost.
“We have fought in the budget to protect and support the people of Nottingham and we will continue to do so. We are here to help residents, to protect them from decisions that the Conservative government have made; decisions that benefit those most well-off in society and not those most in need. When it is launched, please do take part in the consultation. We are serious about listening to your views, and we will be part of a consultation programme that will involve trade unions, the Disability Involvement Group, the voluntary sector as well as a range of neighbourhood events.”
You can read more about the proposals on the City Council website here: https://committee.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=177&MId=9490