Labour’s Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, and Coun Craig Whitby, deputy mayor and Mansfield Council cabinet member for corporate and finance, have sent an open letter to Conservative Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and Mansfield MP, calling for the authority to follow Mansfield Council’s lead and freeze its precept.
“We are writing to urge you to follow the lead of Mansfield Council and to freeze council tax this year.
An increase of £64.24 on the band D property, proposed by the county is unaffordable to the residents of Mansfield whose average wage is £24,000 per annum.
We do not believe Nottinghamshire Council can justifiably load an additional precept of 3 per cent on residents for social care when the Governments’ increase in National Insurance for the NHS and fixing social care will already cost workers an additional £240 per annum.
The additional 1 per cent precept to fix the counties’ roads is also unacceptable as the Chancellor awarded £342 million to the East Midlands in his autumn statement specifically to fix potholes.
Why is the county council not using its share of the funding to fix the roads instead of charging their residents?
The mayor made a similar challenge at the police and crime commissioner’s precept meeting which currently proposes a £10 rise.
With funding nationally for the police increasing in Nottinghamshire by £481m without the precept, this is surely not the time to heap more financial misery onto our residents.
These rises in the cost of living add up to costing the average family an additional £1,570 per annum on a take home pay of £19,960.
This is not acceptable.
Mansfield Council members with special responsibilities have taken a 10 per cent reduction which has helped us to achieve a freeze in council tax.
We urge the county council to follow our lead, which would show they were prepared to share some of the burden with our residents and help balance the budget.
Please reconsider your options as Mansfield’s residents cannot afford the increases you propose on top of what is becoming a cost-of-living crisis.”
In response, Coun Bradley has outlined the county council’s ‘unprecedented’ commitment to helping the most vulnerable families and residents during the last two years of the pandemic and why this funding must continue.
He said: “The level of financial support we’ve provided Nottinghamshire residents since the outbreak of Covid-19 is unprecedented.
I am extremely proud of the work carried out to help those who have needed, and continue to need, our help.
The county council has green-lighted more than £15m for organisations, charities, households, and individuals via several funding streams since March 2020.
This means community projects across Nottinghamshire have been continuing to provide a lifeline to some of our most vulnerable residents.
So why would we risk scrapping these support schemes now?
I’d be really concerned for Mansfield residents about the sustainability of local services. We know prices are going up, how is Mr Abrahams going to pay for all this – he must be planning to make savings in
other areas and make cuts, if not immediately then in the medium to long-term.
This £15m funding support has included helping thousands of youngsters to receive free meals during school holidays and support low-income families who struggle to buy food, pay essential utility bills, or meet other essential living costs.
From distributing free school meals to vulnerable children to delivering grants to organisations which play a key role in supporting residents in their towns and villages, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to ensure the required support is in place to ease the pressures the pandemic has placed on households and individuals.
Our funding to help to those who need it the most will not cease once the pandemic comes to an end. We are determined to keep these schemes of support.
This spring, we’ll be allocating our Local Community Fund, when community and voluntary groups could each receive up to £20,000 as part of our drive for local communities to thrive.
These grants will fund things like improving access to community-based services for our most vulnerable residents, boosting sport facilities and play areas and supporting local schemes to help address the climate crisis.
This is vital as we continue to support communities to be more healthy, prosperous and green as we learn to live with COVID.”