Next three years ‘make or break’ for Nottingham City Council, leader says

Protesters outside Loxley House (LDRS)
Protesters outside Loxley House (LDRS)
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

The leader and deputy leader of Nottingham City Council say the next three years will be “make or break” for the authority as it continues to face significant financial challenges.

The Labour-led council declared itself effectively bankrupt in November, and Government commissioners were later appointed to help run the authority.

In March, councillors reluctantly approved a budget which featured massive cuts to services and jobs.

While the council has managed to bring its 2023/24 budget gap down from £19.3m to £17.6m, it is still facing significant overspends in areas such as adult and children’s social care and homelessness support.

In adult social care the overspend has risen to £8.5m due to costly external placements, while there is a £15m overspend in children’s social care.

Rising homelessness has further brought the overspend in this area to £2m.

The overall budget gap for the next three years is still estimated to be £172m.

During an Executive Board meeting on June 18 the council’s latest budget position was discussed.

Leader of the council, Cllr Neghat Khan (Lab), and her deputy, Cllr Ethan Radford (Lab), both said hard decisions are ahead.

Leader of the council, Cllr Neghat Khan (right) and deputy leader Cllr Ethan Radford
Leader of the council, Cllr Neghat Khan (right) and deputy leader Cllr Ethan Radford

“This budget strategy makes for some difficult reading,” Cllr Khan said.

“It is a clear indication we still have work to do. My priority as leader is to fix this problem, transform this council and put financial stability at the heart of what we do.

“We cannot be complacent. We have Government commissioners. We cannot shy away from difficult decisions.

“These next few years will make or break Nottingham. We were elected by the people of Nottingham to run this council, and we as members must take hard decisions to secure this council’s future.”

Cllr Radford added: “£172m over three years is an incredible challenge, and the next three years will make or break Nottingham.

“What we are going to have to do is fundamentally rethink the delivery of our services in such a way that means we are living within our means.

“We must reach a point by 2027 where this council achieves financial sustainability regardless of the colour of the party in Government.

“That will mean we have to question what we are involved in as an authority, the services we deliver, whether or not we should be involved in certain areas and whether we can vacate those areas and leave them in the private sector or voluntary sector.”

Councillors also said a council tax rise above and beyond the statutory limit of 4.99 per cent was being considered.

Other cash-strapped authorities, including Slough Borough Council and Thurrock, have been allowed by the Government to increase tax up to 10 per cent.

“We will try and do everything we can to try and avoid having to do this,” Cllr Linda Woodings, the executive member for finance, said.

“It has happened with other councils under Government intervention, so it would be wrong to not be up front with people that this will be a possibility.

“But what we have promised is a substantial review of the council’s tax support scheme to mitigate rises in council tax, should that prove necessary.”

Protesters from the Save Our Services (SOS) campaign group again held a demonstration outside Loxley House, where the meeting was taking place.

Gary Freeman, of SOS, said they were continuing to demand a “sham” consultation over the proposed closure of four libraries be ceased until after the July 4 General Election.

They also want to put a stop to proposed charges for the Greyhound Street public toilets, including making payments to access them contactless.

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