Notts authority risks going ‘from one possible crisis to the next’ without long-term Government clarity

Authorities like Nottinghamshire Council risks going ‘from one possible crisis to the next’ unless the Government clarifies how it will financially support councils beyond the coming year, a councillor has warned.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 9:23 am

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities outlined the provisional stages of its grant offering for councils in December.

This, analysis suggests, will provide authorities with an estimated 6.9 per cent extra in basic spending power for the 2022/23 financial year.

Nottinghamshire Council is yet to receive confirmation on exactly how much it will receive in grants, but documents suggest the authority will likely receive additional support to fund health and social care.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a three-year, £4.8 billion package to support councils until 2025 in his latest Budget.

This includes a projected £33.5 million in the Social Care Grant, up £9.2m from last year, as well as £30.9m in the Better Care Fund – a £900,000 rise on 2021/22.

Figures also show the authority is expected to receive a one-off £7.5m grant to support its services and £7.3m for revenue support.

The figures were discussed at the council’s latest finance committee meeting, where councillors broadly welcomed the additional support.

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Clarity

However, calls were made for further clarity on long-term plans to support councils.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a three-year, £4.8 billion package to support councils until 2025, but Whitehall has so far only provided councils with details of next year’s support.

Coun Jim Creamer said: “We ought to be pressing the Government that we need a long-term settlement.

“It doesn’t help our officers, this committee and our services going on a year-by-year basis, it’s like going from one possible crisis to the next.”

A council report published before the meeting stated the one-year settlement provides ‘further uncertainty beyond 2022/23, which will remain until further funding announcements are made’.

Coun Andy Meakin, who represents Kirkby North, said: “How difficult is it for the council to do an accurate medium-term financial strategy when we are continually getting one-year settlements?

“How much guesswork do we have to undertake, and would you back calls for a three-year settlement to give us more certainty going forward?”

Coun Richard Jackson, committee chairman, agreed with the need for more long-term clarity and said it’s a ‘point we make very regularly’ to the Government.

The DLUHC has been approached for comment.

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