By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
A planned council tax rise from Nottinghamshire County Council comes as part of what the authority calls a “difficult act of balance” in managing its books.
A senior finance manager at the council also says it is “getting harder and harder” to make reductions or cuts to services.
The Conservative-led authority is proposing a 4.84 per cent increase on its portion of county residents’ bills from April.
This includes 2.84 per cent for standard services like transport and education and a further two per cent for the ringfenced adult social care precept.
When combined, this would increases the amount to £53.05 for ‘Band A’ homes and £79.57 for the average ‘Band D’ property.
The rise comes as the council looks to provide a balanced three-year budget until the 2025/26 financial year at a time of 40-year high inflation rates.
The council says it has a three-year gap of £31.7m between now and 2026 fuelled by the soaring inflation.
This includes £14m in extra cash for 2023/24, which has been partly offset by an extra £11.8m in Government grants.
Budget proposals put forward by the Conservative administration also include £367m in capital expenditure over the coming three years, including cash for road repairs, new schools and bus improvements.
Councillors are currently scrutinising the plans ahead of the budget full council meeting on February 9.
The plans were discussed during the overview committee meeting on Tuesday (January 24) and will again be debated by cabinet members on Thursday.
And in Tuesday’s meeting, Nigel Stevenson, the council’s service director for finance, said the council is facing pressures fuelled by the ongoing cash crisis.
He told councillors: “This 4.84 per cent increase is that difficult act of balance for the authority to deliver services and also affordability with the increased cost of living challenges.”
The meeting also heard concerns from Councillor Jim Creamer (Lab) about the level of council tax increase proposed by the authority.
The Carlton West councillor said choosing the 4.84 per cent rise – which is slightly below the maximum allowed at 4.99 per cent – will only leave ‘Band A’ homes about 4p a week better off.
In response, Cllr Richard Jackson (Con), cabinet member for finance, said: “What we set out to do is to balance the budget and set the council tax at the necessary rate to fill that gap.
“We’re not going to take more from people than we absolutely need to just because we can.”
The authority plans to implement a multi-million-pound transformation scheme, funded through reserves, to alter the way it provides services.
This includes having a more home and community-based focus for areas like children’s services and social care, whilst also providing targeted support to more disadvantaged areas and reassessing demand.
Mr Stevenson added: “It’s getting harder and harder to find savings and reductions from services because they’re quite vital for what our residents require.
“That’s why the transformation programmes are looking at the way demand comes into it.”
The meeting heard the wider transformation programmes are expected to bring savings in the millions of pounds each year once implemented.
The overview committee discussed the budget proposals and comments made in the meeting will be relayed to cabinet members on Thursday.
Labour and the Independent Alliance are expected to put forward alternative budgets during next month’s full council meeting.