Nottingham City Council warns of 'looming crisis' as spending cuts threaten services
LARGE cities such as Nottingham face a "looming financial crisis" due to government funding cuts, it is claimed.
The claims have been made by city council leader John Colins, who has written to local government minister Eric Pickles calling for an urgent meeting.
Councillor Collins is one of seven city leaders who have signed the letter, warning of a coming financial crisis in core cities in England.
Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show Nottingham City Council's year-on-year spending power will drop 0.5 per cent in 2013-14 and then by 5.7 per cent in 2014-15.
However, the council says it has still not had the final figures from the Government, which it will not get until after Christmas.
The deputy leader Councillor Graham Chapman has also argued this figure does not take all the new council responsibilities into account that have been transferred by the Government.
Elsewhere in Notts, spending power for councils in 2013-14 will drop by two per cent in Mansfield, 0.7 per cent in Rushcliffe, 2.3 per cent in Broxtowe and increase by 0.7 per cent in Gedling. But the following year, the spending power for these four authorities will drop, with a between six per cent decline in Mansfield, and 2.6 per cent in Rushcliffe.
In the letter which has been co-signed by the leaders of Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds, the councils claim that reductions in Government grants have been unfairly distributed.
It says: "None of us is under any illusion about the need for spending reductions and the potential for efficiency savings.
"But the cuts we are now being asked to make in the years ahead will go far beyond the level at which we can protect vital local services.
"Many services that improve the quality of life are already at risk of disappearing in the next two years as we try to prioritise statutory services for the most vulnerable.
"Combined with unprecedented spending pressures, particularly in the social care services, the cuts we now anticipate will leave us unable to provide anything like the range or quality of public services we believe our citizens have a right to expect."
Nottingham City Council has made around £92 million of savings in the past three years and announced this week it will be looking to find £25 million in savings next year.
The city's mobile library service will be axed while elderly and disabled people face reductions in personal budgets given to them to spend on things like home care and day centres.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Ministers meet council leaders regularly.
"Local authorities have been protected from further spending reductions for 2013-14, where the average spending power reduction is just 1.7 per cent. Government is helping councils grow their local economies through bespoke city deals.
"In addition the Government is offering a £450 million third year's council tax freeze – potentially worth over £200 to Band D residents.
"However, councils still account for a quarter of all public spending – £114 billion – so it is vital they continue to play their part tackling the inherited budget deficit by making all of the 50 sensible savings ministers recommend such as better procurement, greater transparency, using reserves more creatively and sharing back offices."