Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) is defending its proposals to increase Council Tax by double the rate of inflation – blaming ongoing reductions in Government funding, combined with a spiralling demand for social care services.
Councillor Richard Jackson, Chairman of its Finance and Major Contracts Committee, said: “We’ve made significant progress in reducing the budget deficit we inherited when taking office in 2017 but it is fair to say that making savings is getting tougher each year – and will continue to do so. Regrettably, it appears that we will have no choice other than to increase Council Tax overall by 3.99% for next year as we’re caught between having less money from government and needing to spend a greater proportion of what’s left on life-and-death social care services. Reductions to some of our discretionary functions –often the most popular, highly-valued services we provide – are now inevitable, unless significant savings can be made elsewhere, such as reshaping our relationship with district and borough councils or removing a tier of local government altogether.”
By 2020/21, the County Council says it will be receiving less than half the Government funding it did in 2012/13, whilst its main source of funding, the Revenue Support Grant, will cease altogether. It was as a result of earlier NCC cutbacks that Ruddington’s former ‘Youth and Community Centre’ on The Green was leased out by the County Council to fitness firm Project Body UK in 2014 to save money – but with the caveat that it should maintain youth provision there. Unfortunately this private enterprise could not make it pay, and the centre closed in December 2016. The disused building is now being sold off by NCC.
The Council says it also needs extra cash for major infrastructure programmes – such as improving the A52 junctions at the Nottingham Knight and Wheatcroft roundabouts. Councillor Jackson added: “Reducing our year-on-year running costs is the norm, but it does not prevent us from making capital investments in the county’s infrastructure. Investing in new LED street lighting and heating systems in schools actually helps us reduce running costs and the money we are committing to build new schools, broadband and roads will benefit us in years to come – improving educational outcomes for our children and attracting new businesses to create more and better jobs when they are older.”
Its full set of budget reports can be downloaded >>HERE<<. Of course, the total rises in Council Tax we’ll see here in Ruddington are dependent not only on Nottinghamshire County Council’s element but also the portions required for our police and fire services, Rushcliffe Borough Council and Ruddington Parish Council. However, these are relatively small sums in comparison with the County Council’s element – meaning householders in our village can realistically anticipate their bills going up by around 4% in 2019/2010. Meantime, for the second year running, Ruddington Parish Council’s budget agreed for this period sees no increase on our Council Tax for its precept part.
A final decision on the County Council’s budget proposals, council tax and social care levy will be taken at its full Council meeting on Monday February 28th.