‘We always want to keep council tax increases as low as possible’ says Nottinghamshire County Council finance boss

Nottinghamshire County Council has its money ‘in a good state’, the authority’s finance committee chairman has said – as he admitted ‘nobody likes putting council tax up’.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 2:05 pm

Councillor Richard Jackson says the authority is spending money ‘as carefully as possible’ and has built up a £17 million coronavirus reserve for any additional demands in the winter.

He says it is unclear at this stage whether council tax will be increased next year, but believes the authority has got the ‘flexibility to fund what we need to’.

It comes ahead of next week’s Government Budget and spending review, which will guide the authority on whether it needs to raise precepts in 2022.

Nottinghamshire Council has a budget of more than £1 billion.

Coun Jackson said: “We always want to keep any council tax increases as low as possible, but at the same time, we have to balance the challenges we have in funding our services.

“Nobody likes putting council tax up and nobody likes seeing their bills rise. I want to reassure people we’re spending money as carefully as possible.

“We’re balancing keeping taxes low with keeping services good.”

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Coun Richard Jackson, Nottinghamshire Council finance and major contract management committee chairman.

Budget

The authority’s budget of more than £1 billion is made up of £367.6m in council tax and £125.6m from local government grants, as well as other grants.

The council currently has borrowing totalling hundreds of millions of pounds, used to fund expenditure like the recent £100m school rebuilding scheme and £25m transport investment.

Coun Jackson describes this as “reborrowing on our existing borrowing”, equating to about 10 per cent of the council’s revenue budget, but remaining ‘affordable’.

The figure raised alarm in last week’s finance committee, with opposition councillors fearing the council is ‘drowning in debt’.

However, Coun Jackson says plans are in place to bring it down.

“We have our finances in a good state,” he said. “We’ve built up reserves over several years to smooth out any pressures that come up.

“Our services will continue. We’re not expecting any dramatic cuts in the coming years, and we’re making the whole organisation as efficient as possible.”