Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Report recommends proposals needed to balance Nottingham City Council budget

Draft budget proposals put forward to close a £50m funding gap in 2024/25 will be discussed by Nottingham City Council’s Executive Board next week.

In a report to the Board on 13 February, officers have recommended that the council will need to go ahead with the budget savings initially set out in December last year to ensure its continued financial sustainability. All councils are legally required to set a balanced budget each year.

The recommendation has been made following confirmation from the Government in its Local Government Settlement of how much funding councils will receive in the next financial year.

The council has also now been issued with new statutory instructions by the Improvement and Assurance Board currently overseeing the authority which mean it has a legal duty to maximise the savings brought forward as part of the budget-setting process in order to minimise the amount it requires in Exceptional Financial Support from Government.

Like councils across the country, Nottingham is facing significant budget pressures due to the cost of increased demand for children’s and adults’ social care and rising homelessness.

Exceptional Financial Support of up to £40m is being sought from the Government to address the budget gap for 2024/25 and up to £25m for the overspend forecast in the current year which led to the issuing of a Section 114 report by the council’s Chief Finance Officer and the introduction of spending controls.

Public consultation took place on the budget proposals in December and January via an on-line survey and a range of engagement events.

Views were received from over 5,400 people with the most comments received on the following proposals:

  • Introduction of a charge for public toilets
  • Introduction of a charge for garden waste bins
  • Increases to Council Tax and Adult Social Care precept
  • Reduction of public transport infrastructure
  • Review of Library Services

There are some changes included in the Executive Board report which mitigate the original proposals relating to public transport.

  • Current link bus services will be retained by using alternative funding sources. Funding for the Medilink service will be removed from April 2025, but in the meantime the council will work with the NHS Trust to develop an alternative operating model for the service.
  • Public transport infrastructure, including Park & Ride sites, will be retained by using alternative funding sources, subject to review in the wider region and the emerging Combined Authority from 2025/26.
  • Concessionary fares will be reviewed in conjunction with the wider region and the emerging Combined Authority to ensure a consistency of approach. Efficiencies will be created within smart ticketing and the removal Robin Hood ticket machines.

Insight and learning from the consultation process will be used in the design phase and to mitigate impact where possible in the implementation of proposals. Additional targeted consultation will be required on some of the proposals based on more detailed proposed delivery models.

The council’s final budget will be set at a meeting of all city councillors on 4 March.

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