'No need to worry' as Nottinghamshire Council works to reduce £60m budget deficit over next three years
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But far from panicking, finance bosses say work is already underway to starting bringing down that number, while not affecting key services.
Ongoing high inflation and the rise in living costs are being blamed for the high numbers with council chiefs pointing out that they are facing the same finanical pressures as everyone else.
But by the time the council actually announces its budget for 2024-25 next February, there are hopes that deficit figure will be less.
And Coun Richard Jackson (Con), cabinet member for finance, says the authority is still in a stronger position than many other councils around the country and there is no danger of Nottinghamshire ending up like Birmingham earlier this year in declaring itself bankrupt.
He said: “This is something we’re working through and it’s a challenge but this is a three-year figure, it’s not like we’ve got to find £60m overnight.
"What we want to do is avoid having to make spending cuts or massive council tax increases to close that gap.
"It’s about how we operate and work as an organisation to keep delivering services and the work we’re doing now is to ensure that services are not only unaffected but continue to improve.
"This deficit figure is only an interim figure and doesn’t, for example, include massive council tax increases that other councils have done.”
Residents, however, have had to shoulder council tax rises over the last few years.
But Coun Jackson said this had allowed the council to invest more into key areas such as road repairs and social care, which Nottinghamshire, like councils across the country, is seeing increased demand for.
He also defended the decision to spend £22m on new offices as part of the huge Top Wighay development on the Hucknall and Linby border.
He said: “We’re spending money on new offices to reduce the costs of running the organisation.
"People are working differently, working remotely and we don’t need to a huge costly building like County Hall, which costs about £5m a year and would need £50m spending if we were to stay there.
"We don’t want to do that, we’d rather spend that money on providing services to the people of areas like Hucknall and Linby.
"It’s not the fancy offices some say it is, it’s a modern fit-for-purpose building with no frills that will allow us to deliver services while working towards getting the deficit figure down."
To help with that, the council had launched an online budget consultation, which runs until November 12, for anyone to take part in and have their say on what the council should be spending its money on and what levels of council tax should be.
Access the consultation at nottinghamshire.gov.uk/budget/budget-consultation-2023/consultation/subpage.2022-10-28.5974393864/
Coun Jackson said: “The finances are a challenge and the economic conditions of the country have contributed to this.
“Anyone managing their household budgets day in, day out, is realising this, we’re the same, just our budget is £600m
"But one thing I will say is that, despite inflation levels, this year and last year, we’re within less than £1m of the budget we set and we’ve done that through a lot of hard work.”