Nottinghamshire County Council budget includes freeze on Council Tax

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NOTTINGHMASHIRE County Council has agreed its spending plans for the coming year at its Full Council meeting this week.

The 2013/14 budget includes a fourth successive Council Tax freeze and extra money for vulnerable people, new school buildings, road improvements, jobs for young people and local sports clubs.

Funding for all services has been maintained at current levels, with no further savings or increases in charges in addition to those announced in previous years.

The council has budgeted to spend £512m during 2013/14 on around 500 services, including public health, which the Council becomes responsible for from 1 April.

By agreeing to freeze Council Tax for a fourth successive year the council will get a £3m support grant from government – equivalent to what would have been raised by a 1 per cent increase in the tax.

Extra money has been allocated for road repairs and tackling youth unemployment after local people identified them as priorities during the Council’s Budget Conversation – a 12 week public consultation.

Coun Reg Adair, chairman of finance and property at the council, described the plans as ‘a payback budget’ following a major overhaul of council finances over the last three years.

He said: “This year’s budget is the result of our hard work to engrain a value-for-money culture and better working practices across the authority. It is a payback budget for the people of Nottinghamshire.

“We have produced spending plans which maintains all our frontline services and invests in major infrastructure projects to benefit the county’s economy and create jobs.

“We have achieved this despite having to find £36m to fund increasing demand for services such as support for older people and children in care – all at the same time as freezing Council Tax for a fourth successive year.”

The 2013/14 budget includes:

* £1m increase in road maintenance budgets, to fund repairs to at least 5,000 more potholes, in addition to the 36,000 potholes already filled each year

* £500,000 youth employment strategy for new apprenticeships and job creation initiatives

* £18m increase in budgets to meet extra demand for care services for older people and people with disabilities

* £11.2m increase in funding to meet extra demand for places for children in the care of the Council

* An extra £700,000 for the Sports Legacy Fund, bringing the total funding for grassroots sports up to £1.7m

* A £133m capital programme for major infrastructure projects such as improvements to school buildings, Hucknall town centre redevelopment, new extra care centres of older people, a new bus station for Worksop, better broadband, a new Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, improvements to the National Water Sports Centre and energy efficiency schemes

As well as agreeing the revenue and capital budgets, the County Council also agreed its medium-term financial strategy. The strategy predicts the Council’s overall financial position in each of the next four financial years, based on assumptions about income, grants and budget pressures.

The strategy estimates that the council will need to make savings of £133m by 2016/17 to make up for a reduction in funding from central government and to meet budget pressures. Around half the savings will be reinvested in county council services experiencing increased demand, such as support for older people and vulnerable children in care.

Copies of the full budget report, including the revenue budget (2013/14) capital programme (2013/14 to 2016/17), Medium Term Financial Strategy (2013/14 to 2016/17) and Council Tax proposals (2013/14) are available to view at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk.