Nottingham City Council have confirmed that a remaining gap in their budget of around £3m has been filled next year and the authority will not need to find any additional savings. The council revealed last December that it was saving around £29m, with plans that included cutting 110 council jobs and raising council tax to 4.99%.
But the council said that despite all the proposals made, which also included the withdrawal of the wheelchair hire service at the Victoria Centre, there was still a gap of £3.2m for the next fiscal year, which starts in april. The authority said it was working between December and its executive board meeting this month and filling the remaining gap.
But ahead of that meeting next Tuesday (February 21), the council said the remaining gap of £3.2m has been closed. In documents to be presented at the meeting, the authority said the latest government financing deal and latest projections on trade rates mean a net increase of £11.2m compared to the situation presented in December.
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Clive Heaphy, the council’s former corporate finance director, predicted in January that the government’s funding deal could close the remaining budget gap. He said at the time: “It’s possible. We think it could have a positive effect on us and that could eliminate it.”
Councilor Adele Williams, deputy leader of the council and head of the finance portfolio, said the pressures remained despite the gap being closed. Cllr Williams said: “Like all councils, businesses and households, city council finances have been hit by the cost of living crisis created by skyrocketing inflation in wages, fuel and energy costs .
“Other pressures, including greatly reduced government grants over the past 13 years, have also made this another challenging year for setting next year’s budget and a four-year financial plan. With ongoing social care funding problems, local taxpayers face an additional cost on their council tax bills and we have no real choice but to set the government-allowed 4.99% council tax, which includes a supplement to help with rising costs and demand for social care for adults”.
The council’s budget will be discussed at Tuesday’s executive board meeting and then must be approved by a full council meeting on March 6. Other plans include the temporary borrowing of £20m from earmarked internal revenue reserves to “strengthen the council’s financial resilience”.
Cllr Williams added: “Sadly this will put an extra burden on local people who we know are already struggling, and won’t raise enough to adequately meet local needs. But we get just under £100m a year in general grants from what we got a decade ago from the national government, severely impacting our ability to provide the services needed by the local population.
“That works out to £694 for every household in our city – we are being asked to fill that gap from Nottingham’s pockets and from service area savings. We will continue to fight for a fairer deal for our city.”