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Big Nottingham council tax hike possible as next few years could ‘make or break’ city

Big Nottingham council tax hike possible as next few years could ‘make or break’ city

The next three years have been described as a “make or break” for Nottingham City Council as the authority pushes for permission to increase council tax above the current 5% cap. Legislation dictates that any council wanting to increase tax by more than 5% must hold a local referendum on it.

However, financially struggling councils can seek government permission to raise taxes above that threshold without holding a referendum. Nottingham City Council said earlier this year it would be “prudent” to consider options including a council tax increase of up to 10% next year.

Other councils that have increased council tax above the referendum threshold include Birmingham City Council, which approved a 21% increase over the next two years. Woking Borough Council agreed a 10% increase, while Thurrock approved an 8% increase.

Should Nottingham City Council have managed its finances better over the past 10 years?

Nottingham City Council has now confirmed it will undertake “ongoing engagement” with the Government on options including raising taxes above the referendum threshold. The confirmation comes as part of Nottingham City Council’s new improvement plan, designed to address the issues that led to commissioners being sent to the authority.

Councillor Neghat Khan, leader of the city council, said: “The next three years will make or break the council. That’s why we’ve put together our improvement plan – a roadmap that recognises the urgency of the task ahead and sets out how we can move from crisis to stability, back on track and deliver for the people of Nottingham.”

The plan was developed and agreed with the three commissioners who were sent to run Nottingham City Council after the authority effectively declared bankruptcy last year. Other past crises at the council have included the collapse of Robin Hood Energy and the illegal spending of housing money.

In terms of past mistakes, Councillor Khan said: “Our improvement plan recognises that we must learn from past mistakes and overcome barriers that have slowed our improvement progress. We are confident in our ability to implement the actions in this plan with the urgency and pace required.”

Also contained in the improvement plans are promises to review the council’s IT software, complete the liquidation of council-owned businesses that have closed and identify further opportunities to sell council buildings. There is also a promise to review the council’s hybrid working policy to “increase the visibility and accessibility of senior leaders across the council”.

Councillor Khan added that the council will have to fundamentally change the way it delivers services, working with external partners or even cutting some services. The council leader added: “We no longer have the money to provide all the services people want or to support them in the way we would like. Demand is overwhelming us, the landscape in which we operate is changing and we have sometimes been slow to adapt to deliver services in different ways or by working with partners.

“This won’t be easy. There are services we currently provide that we will have to reduce, there are other services that will have to change to be more efficient, and there are some things we will simply have to stop doing and look for new ways to work with our partners to deliver them.”