Council tax in Nottinghamshire could rise by ten per cent next year
Council tax in Nottinghamshire could rise by up to ten per cent next year to keep non-essential services running.
Nottinghamshire County Council said the big hike would be caused by the huge shortfall caused by the impact of Covid-19.
But Coun Richard Jackson, the council’s finance chief, said the large tax rise could be reduced or even avoided altogether by adopting the county council’s proposed Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) plans.
A sharp increase in demand for services, unexpected costs like PPE and a decrease in income has caused huge pressure on council finances across the country.
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Some funding has been given to councils from the Government, but even after this, the council is expecting a £51 million shortfall over the next three years.
At the start of the crisis, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Government would stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with councils.
But Coun Jackson said the council ‘would have to take their share of the burden’.
He said a council tax increase of ten per cent would be ‘unpalatable’ to the council, but also said job losses was ‘the last thing we want’.
Instead, he said LGR – essentially scrapping borough, district and the county councils and replacing them with one council to cover the whole of Nottinghamshire, excluding the city – would save up to £30 million a year.
Coun Jackson said: “The money that has been spent absolutely had to be spent.
“The £26 million (shortfall this year) is a best estimate, but there are a lot of unknowns, for example school transport – with social distancing, will we have to put on twice as many buses for example?
“I think there are other ways we can plug the gap.
“LGR would bring about up to £30 million in savings per year.
“I think the Chancellor has talked about £190 billion as the cost to the Government of this crisis.
"To go back and ask for more money for local government when they’ve put £8 billion in so far, I don’t think that’s going to be the answer either.
“I think we’ve got to look at how we organise ourselves.
“We don’t want to go back and look at cuts to services people rely on, it’s the last thing we want to do, especially as on the table is a better answer and that’s LGR.
"I’m not sure back in March anyone really thought there would be a £190 billion of costs for the Government.
“So if there are things locally we can do to reduce costs we need to be looking at it.”
“We have to balance a budget at the end of the day and there are things we have to do and things we do by choice.
“We’ll continue to work to persuade the Government that there is a need for funding and we’ll work through the Local Government Association and the County Councils Network to demonstrate that and we lead on that work.
“We can’t bank on a hope for additional funding from the Government, we have to look at real tangible things locally.
“Given the scale of the financial impact on the Government it’s unrealistic to expect (the shortfall) to be met entirely.”