Council tax rise likely as Nottinghamshire eyes balanced budget amid rising costs

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Nottinghamshire Council says progress has been made on closing its £60m budget shortfall, despite increasing demand for services.

But residents are still likely to face another rise in council tax this year as the authority seeks to close the budget gap.

Higher costs for providing social care and supporting those with special educational needs and disabilities have pushed its outgoings up in recent months.

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But the Conservative-led authority is expecting to be able to balance its budget for the 2024-25 financial year, which has a current estimated shortfall of £5.4m.

Coun Richard Jackson says the council is making progress towards setting a balanced budget. Photo: Tracey WhitefootCoun Richard Jackson says the council is making progress towards setting a balanced budget. Photo: Tracey Whitefoot
Coun Richard Jackson says the council is making progress towards setting a balanced budget. Photo: Tracey Whitefoot

However, it faces a total £55m funding gap for the three years until 2026-27.

All councils are legally required to set a balanced budget, which is more difficult when inflation and higher demand pushes costs up.

Newly-released budget papers say savings could be achieved by focusing more on prevention of problems, reducing the demand for emergency need.

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They also recommend a 1.99 per cent council tax increase and a one per cent rise in the adult social care precept from April to help balance the books.

This would mean the county council part of Nottinghamshire residents’ council tax bills rises by 2.99 per cent for the next year.

Coun Richard Jackson (Con), the cabinet member for finance, says it is a challenge to maintain services while still finding ways to save money.

He said: “The financial situation has improved, although we’ve had one or two setbacks.

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"We’ve been working on addressing spending pressures that have emerged for the next year and reducing the funding gap.

“We are confident now that we will have a balanced budget for the next couple of years.

“We are looking at maintaining services but doing them in a different way.

"This includes working with community groups, district councils and the third sector, and delivering those services more efficiently.

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“Our starting point is to maintain services and make ourselves more efficient.

"Part of that is moving out of this big, expensive building to a purpose-built one elsewhere.

“It’s a constant challenge to find the balance.

"Our budget consultation showed that people are open to the idea of council tax increases, which we would prefer to budget cuts.”

Councils across the country are being stretched by inflation and growing demand for services.

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He continued: “Difficult decisions that we have made locally have put our finances in a really sound position.

“We have accrued reserves, which we can spend now we are now in exceptional times.

"It’s not sustainable in the long-term, but it allows us to work through the savings we need to make.”

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He added that council leader Coun Ben Bradley (Con) – also MP for Mansfield – would continue to lobby for increased Government funding.

The council’s revised budget figures will be presented to the authority’s overview committee on Thursday, January 25, and will go before full council later this month.