‘Bankrupt’ Nottingham City Council outlines major cost-cutting plans

  • By Greig Watson
  • BBC News, Nottingham

Image source, Poohz/Getty

Image caption,

As well as job cuts, a large number of services are facing cuts or reviews

More than 500 jobs could be cut at Nottingham City Council as it battles a major financial crisis.

A report published on Monday has revealed a £50m gap in the local authority’s budget for 2024-25.

As well as service cuts, the loss of about 550 full-time equivalent posts is being considered in an effort to balance its books.

The measure was taken as the local authority was facing a £23m overspend for 2023-24, which in the council’s view had mostly been caused by the increasing costs of social care, as well as looking after more homeless people, along with cuts in central government funding.

A section 114 notice means the council has ceased all new spending on services that it is not obliged by law to provide, or that it has already committed to.

‘Serious gap’

  • Reviewing library service provision, while maintaining a core service
  • Removing the council contribution towards some grants to the voluntary and charity sector, and to arts organisations and cultural sector, including museums
  • Reviewing the operation of community centres and seeking to remove council subsidised grants
  • Reduce public transport infrastructure to minimum statutory provision, including removing Easylink and withdraw funding contribution to the Medilink service
  • Reducing overall capacity in Adult Social Care Assessment function
  • The closure of Colwick Park Activity Centre

The council has also said it is looking at cutting about 500 posts, from a staff of about 6,500.

It said every effort would be made to limit compulsory redundancies through targeted voluntary redundancy and support would be provided for those affected.

But the report confirms the proposed savings announced are only expected to reduce the deficit to about £33.2m.

Commenting on the initial proposals, leader of the city council David Mellen said: “As things stand, unfortunately the budget pressures we are seeing are unlikely to reduce next year and like many councils, we are facing a serious gap in our budget for 2024-25.

“This means officers have had to put forward proposals for significant savings and service reductions which no-one would want to make but have to be considered by councillors if the council is to meet its legal requirement to set a balanced budget.

“The proposals include some valued services and funding that we have been able to continue to provide in Nottingham but have already been stopped by many other councils.”

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David Mellen says councillors have “agonised” over cuts to services

The deficit comes despite a proposed council tax increase of a maximum of 4.99%, which includes the 2% adult social care precept.

But the council pointed out services for adults, children and housing and homelessness accounted for 62.5% of its budget and it had a lower than average council tax income due to the number of A and B band properties in the city boundaries.

It also said since 2013-14, the council’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) from the government had reduced by £97m every year.

Mr Mellen told BBC Radio Nottingham: “This is the most difficult time that I have ever experienced.

“Councils across the country are not receiving the money they need to have to run the services that government expect us to run.

“This is not what I came into politics for.

“We have agonised for the last three months as councillors, looking at these proposals and saying ‘can we give support to these areas?’

“In many cases, we haven’t been able to.”

‘Failed strategy’

In a statement, the Nottinghamshire Trade Unions Council (TUC) said: “The main cause of the council’s crisis is massive central government underfunding since 2010, amounting to £100m every year since 2013.

“Rather than fight the government for more money, the council attempted to cover the shortfalls by a failed commercialisation strategy that cost millions.

“We believe the best way to work together as one city is to unite in a campaign to fight, not implement, the cuts.”

Some proposed cuts will have to go through a period of public consultation, while others will not.

The consultation will begin after the executive board meeting on 19 December, before final decisions at a budget meeting in February.


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