Nottingham City Council has published details of a public consultation on new proposals to balance its budget for 2024/25.
The four-week consultation will be formally launched at a meeting of the council’s Executive Board on Tuesday 19 December. It will be an opportunity for Nottingham citizens to have their say on a range of measures that have been put forward by council officers to make savings in the next financial year.
Many of the proposals suggest significant cuts to the services we provide. This is because the council is facing unprecedented pressure on its budget for next year, with a predicted £50m gap. The council receives a financial settlement from the Government each year before Christmas – but we have little hope that this will help to close the financial gap we face. This is on top of the overspend we face in the current financial year due to the demands on our services, which resulted in the recent issuing of a Section 114 Report.
Proposals put forward by council officers for the next budget look to take many of our services back to their statutory minimum level. Services that Nottingham Labour has tried to protect for years would be either reduced or cut completely. This is being proposed on a scale never seen before in our city – but it reflects the size of the financial challenge that is before us.
Setting a balanced budget gets harder every year. We have had years of underfunding from the Tory government. Over the past ten years, we have received £100 million less each year in real terms than we did before 2013, representing a loss of a billion pounds. That is £694 less funding per resident each year.
This is not a Nottingham problem; councils around the country are facing similar pressures on their finances. Years of austerity have hurt many cities and their citizens. The driving force is pressure in adult and children’s social care and homelessness. The government has failed to properly address the issues facing both the adults and children’s care system with rising demand from people who are presenting as homeless, plus inflation, overwhelming council budgets.
The sums are simple: we get less money from the government but demand for our services is increasing. We legally must set a balanced budget, so our only choice is to make cuts to the discretionary services we provide for our citizens.
This is not something we want to do. No councillor was elected to make cuts to services. The consultation document highlights where councillors feel they could reluctantly accept cuts – but it also shows savings proposals from officers that do not have political support at this stage.
We understand that many of the proposals are difficult, but we must consider all options at this time.
It is vital that we hear the views of the public before a final decision is made in February. When the consultation is launched, we urge people to complete the online survey and to attend the public consultation events.