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Gedling Borough Council in top five nationally for biggest cuts to core spending power

Councillors say taxpayers aren’t getting “value for their money” from Whitehall and suggest “difficult decisions” could be on the horizon.

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Gedling Borough Council is amongst the five worst-affected nationally for reductions in its ability to fund key services, Government statistics show.

Councillors say taxpayers aren’t getting “value for their money” from Whitehall and suggest “difficult decisions” could be on the horizon.

Ashfield District Council also made the top five, suffering the second-biggest drop in core spending power of all 333 English councils.

The new figures were published with the 2023 to 2024 Local Government Settlement on Monday (December 19).

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Core spending is the term used to determine how much money councils should have available to pay for key services like housing, waste collection and park maintenance.

It takes into account grant support from the Government and other income like business rates, with each council’s levels compared with 2015 to 2016 levels in Whitehall spreadsheets.

It also assumes authorities will take the most council tax allowed in the coming financial year, which for districts and boroughs is 2.99 per cent in April.

And the new data shows the Ashfield Independent-led council’s spending power will be 10.5 per cent lower next year than in 2015 to 2016 – even if it takes the full council tax amount.

It means the council is expected to have £12.8m available to spend on core services from April 2023, compared with £14.3m eight years ago.

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This comes despite the authority being granted a 4.6 per cent spending power rise next year compared with 2022 to 2023 – working out at £600,000 more.

Councillor David Martin (Ash Ind), the council’s cabinet member for finance, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The 10.5 per cent cut makes a complete mockery of any promise to ‘level up’.

“To put this into perspective, [Local Government Secretary] Michael Gove’s own Surrey Heath Borough Council has seen an increase of 10.7 per cent.

“The settlement leaves councils like Ashfield on the breadline and facing difficult decisions.

“Given rising energy costs and inflation predicted to hit 14 per cent, we will be even worse off. This ‘settlement’ represents a real-terms cut.”

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Labour-run Gedling Borough Council is the fifth-worst nationally, having seen an eight per cent cut since 2015 to 2016, falling from £12.7m to £11.6m near year.

Cllr Michael Payne (Lab), the council’s deputy leader, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This is the difference between services staying open or closing.

“How is it defendable that people work hard, pay tax both to the Government and to the council and yet they’re not getting value for their money?

“It’s wrong, unfair and needs to change. This is hard-working taxpayers’ money and their areas are being let down by the Government.”

Labour-run Mansfield is the eleventh-most affected England council, with a five per cent fall since 2015.

There was also a 3.2 per cent drop at Labour/Lib Dem coalition-controlled Broxtowe – the eighteenth-biggest fall in England.

However, some Nottinghamshire councils have seen core spending power rises during the same period.

Tory-run Newark and Sherwood District Council saw a 4.3 per cent increase, rising to 6.2 per cent at Labour-led Bassetlaw.

Conservative-controlled Rushcliffe Borough Council saw the biggest increase of Nottinghamshire’s lower-tier authorities, at 12.8 per cent.

But the Government data also shows England councils as a whole saw a 32.7 per cent average increase during this eight-year period.

Only Tory-run Nottinghamshire County Council bettered this rate, with a 41.5 per cent increase over eight years – the tenth-best nationally.

It means the council should have £698.9m to fund services like transport, education and social care in 2023/24, up from £493.9m in 2015 to 2016.

This has also increased from £633.2m in 2022 to 2023 with the authority getting a 10.4 per cent year-on-year increase in its spending abilities.

Labour-run Nottingham City Council also saw a 31.7 per cent rise between 2015 to 2016 and next year – up from £259.8m to £342.1m.

Last year, the council’s core spending power was £311.4m, with this week’s financial settlement offering a 9.9 per cent year-on-year rise.

A four-week consultation on the settlement will run in the new year and Cllrs Martin and Payne urged their MPs to lobby for more money.

The Government did not respond to a request for comment on the spending power cuts at Ashfield, Gedling, Mansfield and Broxtowe councils.

However, Mr Gove said this week: “Local government plays an absolutely vital role in helping us to level up, support the most vulnerable, and deliver key services that people rely on every single day.

“We recognise the pressures councils are facing right now.”

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