Budget to protect frontline services
At Full Council on 25th February, Nottinghamshire County councillors will be asked to agree an Adult Social Care Precept increase of just 1%, rather than the maximum 3% permitted by Government for 2021/22.
This recommendation is intended to minimise the pressure on Nottinghamshire taxpayers during the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst still ensuring that the County Council can maintain services and balance its books in the coming year.
The proposed 1% increase in the Adult Social Care Precept and a 1.99% increase in basic council tax will mean Nottinghamshire County Council’s combined tax increase will be 2% lower than the maximum 4.99% allowed by Government.
Based on latest information from other County Councils, this means Nottinghamshire’s increase is set to be amongst the lowest 25% in the country.
The increase will still raise £14.4m in additional money in 2021/22 to support more than 400 services across the county.
Finance & Major Contracts Management Committee Chairman, Councillor Richard Jackson said:
“I’m proud of the fact that Nottinghamshire County Council is proposing a smaller tax increase than most other County Councils whilst still balancing our budget.
“The Government has said Councils can raise the Adult Social Care Precept by up to 3% in 2021/22, but we have decided not to do this. We’re restraining the Precept to just 1% to reduce the burden on Nottinghamshire families as we all seek to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some other local authorities will be increasing council tax by the maximum combined 4.99%, but our increase will be limited to 1% in Adult Social Care Precept and 1.99% in basic council tax.”
Councillor Jackson pointed out that longer-term budget challenges still remain.
Despite prudent financial management over the past three years which has achieved savings worth £35.3m, the increasing demand for adult and children’s social care services, as well as the forecast ongoing costs of the COVID-19 pandemic mean the Council must resolve a £47.7m budget shortfall by 2024/25.
Councillor Richard Jackson commented:
“The County Council has spent the past ten years modernising and streamlining its services, saving over £300 million. Thanks to this work we went into the current COVID situation in a strong financial position, unlike some councils who already had severe financial difficulties and are now relying on big tax increases or even struggling to survive.
“We’ve also been very successful in our efforts lobbying the Government for additional resources to cope with the immediate impact and costs of the pandemic this year and going forward into next.
“Despite having to face the unprecedented challenge of Coronavirus, the gap in our medium-term budget is now around £15 million smaller than the one inherited by this administration in 2017.
“We already have plans in place to close that budget gap further. And we remain committed, when the opportunity arises, to creating a unitary council in Nottinghamshire which would release at least £27 million more per year for services."
Nottinghamshire County Council’s strong performance was recognised by a recent Local Government Peer Review which referred to the County Council as “an effective council delivering good citizen focused services to its residents”
“there is financial stability in the organisation and the Council has a proven track record of delivering savings while maintaining front line services over a long period of time – this is impressive.”
The cost of COVID-19 to Nottinghamshire County Council is expected to be £86 million during this financial year and the authority has received sufficient funds from the Government to help cope with the pandemic.
Asked about the long-term forecast, Councillor Jackson said:
“We have got an excellent track record of making big savings without a negative impact on services and I am confident this will continue. In fact, we have managed to protect services like libraries, bus services, children’s centres, youth clubs and community funding while many other councils have been cutting theirs.
“We don’t think we should take more council tax than we need, and we think we have got the right funding balance as things stand. A lot of councils have chosen to take the maximum tax increase, because they can, but we will maintain the services we’ve got while taking just one percent in Adult Social Care Precept.
“I’m pleased we’ve been able to safeguard services this financial year and I’m optimistic that the signs we’re receiving from Government on the spending review and on the settlement for next year are positive.”