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Nottingham Labour

Nottingham Labour passes budget under duress

Nottingham Labour have today (4 March) voted to pass the officer-proposed budget in Full Council.
Councillors have a legal obligation to set a balanced budget. Without it, city council staff would not be paid, services would be unable to continue and the most vulnerable people in Nottingham would be left in limbo.

In previous years, the majority group of Labour members has worked with officers to shape proposals to minimise the impact on city residents.

However, a recent directive from the government-appointed Improvement and Assurance Board (IAB) has instructed officers to bring forward all proposals that reduce services to their statutory minimum – without the need to factor in any comments from councillors or feedback from the recent public consultation on the budget.

Before the IAB instruction was issued in January, councillors were working with officers to try to set a balanced budget for 2024/25.

Legally setting a balanced budget has always been challenging – but Nottingham Labour has acted in good faith and in the best interests of the citizens we represent over the years.

The budget was passed under duress because there was no other option. Nottingham Labour proposed three amendments to the budget. These amendments would have protected some key services: they would have kept libraries open, and they would have preserved welfare rights support, Advice Nottingham and vital youth facilities; they would have kept lunch clubs and protected grants to the voluntary sector. They would have preserved care homes and lessened cuts to Community Protection

Disappointingly, these amendments were all rejected by officers.

The blame for this budget does not lie with our council officers who have been asked to bring forward as many proposals as possible to make savings to fill our budget gap. The blame lies with the Conservative Government.

For far too long they have cut our funding, for far too long they have relied on an outdated Local Government model which is no longer fit for purpose, for far too long they have forced councils to cut services to the bone.

Since 2010/11, the number of cuts in local government have disproportionately affected the poorest areas. Nottingham has lost the equivalent of £950 per resident from cuts, Oxfordshire only £96, nearly ten times less.
We have lobbied the government on this, and we would like to thank all those who signed the Resolve petition asking for no strings attached emergency funding.

It is a travesty that the government has not listened to the people of Nottingham, they have turned deaf ears on our pleas for help.

Despite our concerns on the budget that has been put forward and passed, it is still a budget that will provide £80 million for adult social care, £60 million for children’s services and £25 million for staff pay rise, as well as a capital programme to build new homes, repair school buildings and much more.

We were elected to represent the people of Nottingham and we will continue to do that. We will work with all our partners and the commissioners to protect the things people rely on and to improve our services as much as we can.