Ashfield councillors say taxpayers will be left to foot bill after Government delays spending review again

With councils expecting their financial settlements from Government this week, councillors in Nottinghamshire have reacted with fury after the Government once again delayed its fair funding review for local councils.
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First promised in 2016, the review was supposed to create a fairer formula for the allocation of Government funding, but it has been repeatedly delayed and now, the Government has confirmed it will not take place for at least two years.

Nottinghamshire Council has long supported a fair funding review, believing the county will benefit significantly.

But now, members of the Independent Alliance at County Hall are fearing it may never happen – leading to council tax bills continuing to rocket.

Coun David Martin, Nottinghamshire Council member for Selston.Coun David Martin, Nottinghamshire Council member for Selston.
Coun David Martin, Nottinghamshire Council member for Selston.

Coun David Martin, Ashfield Independents member for Selston, said: “We’ve been promised a ‘fair funding review’ for the last six years and kicking it into the long grass is yet another broken promise to Nottinghamshire by the Conservatives.

“This will be a hammer blow to the finances of Nottinghamshire Council – already on the brink and admitting next year will see a massive hike in council tax.

"The council has been very clear that it believes that fairer funding will a significant rise in funding.

Coun Lee Waters said: “The council has been hanging its hopes of positive result from a fair funding review for years.

Hucknall councillor Lee Waters says council tax rises are now 'invevitable'Hucknall councillor Lee Waters says council tax rises are now 'invevitable'
Hucknall councillor Lee Waters says council tax rises are now 'invevitable'

"Now it’s clear, that this will not happen at all during this Parliament.

"Once again, the hard-pressed council tax payers will have to pick up the bill for yet another broken promise.

"Residents across Nottinghamshire can expect yet another huge rise in council tax bills – it is the inevitable result of this decision.”

The councillors believe the fair funding review will never happen due to the two-year delay, which means it would theoretically take place after a general election.

The Government’s finance policy statement said: “In the longer-term, our ambitions for levelling up the country require us to assess our commitments to update local government funding.

“The Government had previously committed to carry out a review of relative needs and resources and a reset of accumulated business rates growth.

"Whilst we can confirm that these will not be implemented in this spending review period, the Government remains committed to improving the local government finance landscape in the next Parliament.”

However, Coun Ben Bradley, Conservative council leader and Mansfield MP, has said previously that, despite needed to plug a £24 million gap in the council budget, there would not be any need for drastic cuts or job losses this year.

And while he acknowledged the delay of the spending review was ‘frustrating’ he hoped there would be room to manoeurve.

Speaking to councillors last week, he said: “At some point, the Government will have to bite the bullet but it is frustrating.

“We have seen some steps forward, I’m hoping we’ve got some opportunities for flexible funding and there are positive things going on behind the scenes.

“If we were allowed to spend our budget how we wanted, we wouldn’t need to have difficult budget conversations and we’d probably be able to cut tax.

“More flexibility would be good.”