In a letter to the Chief Executive dated 22 February 2024, the Government has advised that the Secretary of State will appoint Commissioners to Nottingham City Council. This follows the initial “minded to” letter of December 2023. Statutory Intervention through Commissioners is a very significant step to take and therefore this guide on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) has been produced to explain what this could mean. Over time we will receive more information from Government and from the Commissioners. We intend to update these FAQs when new information becomes available.
What does this mean?
Ministers have written to Nottingham City Council to say that they have put Directions in place to appoint Commissioners until 22 February 2026. The appointment of Commissioners for Nottingham City Council means that certain council powers and responsibilities will be handed to the Commissioners for two years. It is intended that most decisions should still be made by the authority but with the oversight of the Commissioners. If by the end of two years, Government is not happy with progress, this period may be extended.
What are Commissioners and what powers would they have?
Commissioners are private individuals with relevant experience personally appointed by the Secretary of State to exercise powers on the Secretary of State’s behalf.
The proposed functions to be exercised by the Commissioners are broad and wide ranging, but can broadly be summarised as functions relating to:
· Governance, scrutiny and decision-making
· Financial governance, scrutiny, and financial management
· The Council’s operating model and redesign of services
· Performance management of senior officers
· The appointment and dismissal of statutory officers
· Defining the structure of senior officers within the Council and all functions relating to recruitment of these posts
The full list can be found in the letter which is published here: Nottingham City Council Letter to the Chief Executive
There are also actions that, through Secretary of State direction, the council is required to undertake, including to agree and appraise the council’s Improvement Plan (Together for Nottingham) to the satisfaction of the Commissioners within the first three months, secure continuous improvement in all services, and to undertake such other measures as the Commissioners require. The Commissioners will need to report to the Secretary of State on progress made at six monthly intervals.
· Lead Commissioner – Tony McArdle
· Commissioner – Margaret Lee
Transformation Commissioner - TBC
The Government-appointed IAB has repeatedly raised concerns about the pace of change within the council, and the reported overspends that led to the issuing of a Section 114 notice in late 2023 give further concern about the council’s finances. The letter also points to the need to maintain momentum around the budget setting period for 2024/25.
Nottingham City Council is proposing an extensive budget package that will have a significant impact over the coming weeks and months, but remains committed to making sure that its services are effective, high quality and represent good value for money. We have consulted on a series of budget proposals designed to ensure the deliverability of our plans and the sustainability of our finances and are refreshing the Strategic Council Plan and Medium-Term Financial Plan to that effect.
Commissioners will work with Nottingham City Council on its improvement journey and will seek to ensure that the council complies with its Best Value duty across all of our services.
The Government says that in recognition of the nature and scale of the intervention, he has determined fees of £1,200 per day for the Lead Commissioner, £1,100 per day for the Commissioners, and up to a total of 150 days annually for each individual.