The Government has announced that it is minded to appoint commissioners to oversee the running of Nottingham City Council.
This would be a disastrous move for the council and for the people of Nottingham.
Since the Government first put intervention in place in 2021, through the Improvement and Assurance Board (IAB), councillors have worked with officers to strengthen our governance, reshape our companies and make progress in improving our finances, and passing a balanced budget that was accepted by the IAB. We have made huge strides in reducing the debt of Nottingham City Council.
Unfortunately, soaring costs and pressures in adults and children’s social care, as well as the rising cost of homelessness, have shattered our budgets – which is happening to councils across the country. This led to our Chief Finance Officer issuing a Section 114 report for our in-year budget gap at the end of November.
The Conservative Government will try to paint this as another example of Labour mismanagement. We reject this completely. The work that is within our control has been moved forward in a positive way by councillors working with officers. However, much of the financial troubles we face are out of our control because of soaring inflation and rising homelessness. A succession of failed Tory Prime Ministers from David Cameron to Boris Johnson and Liz Truss have promised many times – and then failed – to fix the broken social care system.
Councils run by other political parties have also had commissioners appointed, for example at councils in Thurrock, Woking and Slough.
A consultation on proposals to make budget savings in Nottingham will run over Christmas and into January. Many of the cuts proposed by officers will reduce our council services to their statutory minimum. Councillors have been working hard with officers to help shape proposals and understand which ones we accept and which proposals do not currently have our political support.
We are in this position because of years of austerity and Tory underfunding which have stretched council budgets to breaking point.
Nottingham Labour won a resounding electoral victory in May on a manifesto that promised to make the city the best it can be. Our commitment to the people of Nottingham is that if commissioners are appointed, then we will continue to represent and support our citizens. Any decision for commissioners would be made in the best interests of a failing Conservative government rather than in the best interests of Nottingham people.