New Mansfield Council plan to plug budget hole after Government settlement

Mansfield Council will not increase council tax and has instead outlined other new plans to plug a £1.3 million black hole in its finances after what it describes as ‘higher-than-expected’ Government grants.

Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 9:29 am

The authority had planned to increase residents’ bills by 1.99 per cent – the most it was legally allowed to increase its precept without calling a referendum – as part of plans to plug the major budget deficit.

But the Government has since confirmed its council support offer for the 2022/23 year, which was greater than many authorities expected after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £4.8 billion package in his budget.

Now the Labour-run Mansfield authority has outlined its revised medium-term financial strategy, which factors in changes to the Government’s funding plan.

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Documents due before an overview and scrutiny committee this week show the council had budgeted for £677,000 of Government support.

Following the funding announcement, documents confirm the council will now receive grants totalling £1,078,000.

The council says it means the council tax rise will not be necessary, saving residents in Band A properties £2.58 per year.

The Labour administration will, however, bring in a new trade glass collection service to generate about £5,000 per year.

It comes after the overview and scrutiny committee recommended the council should increase parking charges at Mansfield Woodhouse railway station, which could have raised about £1,500 for the authority.

The cabinet did not support these proposals, however, given the grant confirmation from Whitehall.

The council will instead continue to reduce special responsibility allowances – expenses given to councillors in important roles – by 10 per cent, raising £20,000 per year.

And the authority will provide a one-off payment of £100,000 from its earmarked reserves to help plug the gap. This was reduced from £261,500 in light of the greater Government support.

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Coun Craig Whitby, council portfolio holder for corporate and finance, will present the new plan to the overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, January 6.

He said: “The recent confirmation of a higher-than-expected Government grant means we are in a position where we no longer need to increase our portion of council tax.

“This would be good news for Mansfield residents, many of whom continue to be affected by the pandemic.

“Our original decision to propose an increase was not an easy one to make for this reason but was necessary based on the information we had at the time.

“I’m pleased to put forward these new proposals that won’t negatively impact residents, but will still support the council’s commitment to delivering high-quality services.”

Alongside the changes, the council also plans to invest £25,000 to allow the Tour of Britain to return to the town in its Nottinghamshire leg this year.

The authority will also reduce garden waste charges from £31 to £26, losing £32,000 annually, with £26,000 planned for investment in parks, a further £30,000 in ‘economic stimulus’, and £10,000 for a council tax hardship fund.

Once the proposals have been scrutinised, they are due for approval by the cabinet on January 17, before being brought to full council on January 26.

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