Concillors met today to discuss budget plans for next year which would see Council Tax frozen and an extra £16m spent on adult social care.
Nottinghamshire County Council's Finance and Property Committee backed the proposals which include:
a Council Tax freeze for the fourth successive year
no further budget savings in addition to those announced in previous years
an additional £25m to meet increased demand for services, including an extra £16m for adult social care and £3m for childrens social care
The budget report and public consultation information can be viewed at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/budget (see Budget Conversation details below).
Under the proposals, around £11m of contingency funds will be released, along with £3.1m from Council reserves to help meet the additional budget pressures caused by the increase in demand for services such as care for the elderly and children.
Like all local authorities, the Council still faces an extremely challenging financial future with a further £10m reduction in Government Grant forecast for 2013/14.
However, smarter procurement, continued improvements in financial management and streamlining management and staffing levels have helped the Council achieve estimated savings of £36.4m in the current financial year.
Whilst there are no new savings or increase in charges proposed for 2013/14, some changes agreed last year will take effect, including:
increasing the charge for the Handy Persons Adaptations Scheme which carries out small household improvements up to the value of £250. The charge will increase from £10 to £15, raising an additional £50,000.
extending car parking charges at country parks, rasing £50,000
reducing cleaning costs at Council office buildings, saving £303,000
utilising Libraries to provide advice about County Council services, saving £60,000
Councillor Reg Adair, Chairman of Finance and Property Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council said, "This year's budget is payback time for all the hard work done to get the Council's finances on track and improve value-for-money across all our services.
"The financial climate and pressure on Councils to do more for less continues to make life difficult. But we have risen to those challenges and are able to present proposals for a balanced budget, at the same time as freezing Council Tax and putting extra money into frontline services.
"Through our Improvement Programme, we're getting more out of every pound we spend and better financial management has helped us make in-year savings, which we are putting back into services where there is growing demand, such as care for the elderly and children. At the same time, we're once again proposing to resist the temptation of asking hard pressed families to pay more in Council Tax - which would be a freeze for four successive years.
"Whilst we are not proposing any new planned efficiency savings for 2013/14, the prudent approach and budgetry control we have promoted will continue, to the benefit of the Council and the taxpayer.
"We know that tough financial challenges still lie ahead, especially due to the ever growing demand for some of our services and the prospect of having even less to spend, but we have put the Council on the best possible financial footing to meet those challenges."
The Budget Conversation
People can have their say on the budget proposals and future financial direction of the Council by taking part in the County Council's Budget Conversation.
The Budget Conversation runs until 25 January 2013, with the views of all those taking part being considered ahead of the County Council's final budget proposals being debated at the Full Council meeting on 28 February next year.
The consultation is a series of questions about County Council services, a chance to say which you value the most and what you think about freezing Council tax and what services you think we should spend more or less on.
Residents can give their feedback in a number of ways, including using comment cards available in libraries across the county, by telephone to 0300 500 80 80, online at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/budget or by filling in a questionnaire and returning it by freepost.
A budget simulator on the County Council's website gives people the opportunity to create their own budget. The simulator allows users to increase or decrease spending in different service areas, explaining potential consequences of their decisions.
Full details about the budget proposals and how to comment will also be published in the next edition of the County Council's newspaper, County News which will be delivered to all households in Nottinghamshire from 26 November.
And community groups and schools will be able to download a discussion toolkit from the website which they can use to collate views of members and pupils.
Having your say does make a difference. Last year's budget consultation attracted comments from over 4,000 people and influenced changes to a number of the initial budget proposals, including the final decisions to:
Extend opening hours for 15 libraries across the county
Freeze charges for Blue Badge applications at £2
Freeze charges for meals on wheels at £3.95
Provide an additional £50,000 in grant aid to support the voluntary sector