Commissioners could be appointed within days as council told to be ‘realistic’ with budget

Nottingham City Council's Loxley House HQ

Nottingham City Council has received new guidelines from the Improvement and Assurance Board (IAB) to help manage its budget amid current challenges.

These instructions aim to ensure financial stability, considering factors like increased demand for social care and homelessness services, leading to a forecasted overspend of £23m this year and a funding gap of £50m by 2024/25.

The council is legally obliged to follow these instructions, with savings proposals to be discussed at an upcoming budget meeting.

There’s now a possibility that Government Commissioners could be appointed by early February to address these issues.

The council had been invited to make representations to the Secretary of State by 2 January 2024 before a final decision was made about the proposal, however, the council had not made significant progress by this point.

The IAB wants to ensure clear expectations for the council leadership leading up to the budget-setting meeting on February 26th and to facilitate a smooth transition if Commissioners are appointed.

Effective from January 25th, 2024, new finance instructions have been issued for the council.

These instructions build upon existing ones, emphasising the need for realistic budget planning and prudent reserve management.

The s151 officer, in consultation with the chief executive and corporate directors, will present a draft budget for 2024/25 that maximises potential savings options and quantifies the minimum budget gap, considering the bid for Exceptional Financial Support from the Government.

The presented draft budget will be recommended to the Full Council for approval, with any necessary professional adjustments made by the s151 officer.

Discussions are ongoing with the Government for Exceptional Financial Support of up to £40m for the 2024/25 budget gap and up to £25m for this year’s overspending.

This support would likely involve using money from asset sales to address financial pressures.

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