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Norfolk could be hit with higher council tax bills as county council looks to plug £17.5m funding gap

16:14 29 August 2014

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council.

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People in Norfolk could be hit with higher council tax bills next year, as councillors at cash-strapped County Hall are asked to consider a hike to help plug an estimated £17.5m funding gap in 2015/16.

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Councillors are being asked to think seriously about agreeing to the first increase in its share of the council tax since 2010, with the millions that would raise potentially being earmarked specifically for improving services for vulnerable children.

Peter Timmins, interim director of finance at Norfolk County Council, has suggested councillors should consider the increase in next February’s budget because of the pressures the authority is under.

Mr Timmins is forecasting that the council, which sets a budget of some £1.5bn each year, will be £17.5m short of the money it needs in 2015/16,

And councillors are being asked to consider what, to some who were elected saying they would not allow a council tax rise, is unthinkable, after four years of freezing council tax in return for a grant from central government.

The council identified £71m of savings last February, but not all those savings have been achieved. And Mr Timmins has forecast that £209m will need to have been saved within five years.

With inspectors from Ofsted having criticised the authority’s children’s services department, millions has been spent trying to turn that around, yet the number of looked after children has not significantly reduced.

And George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council said the prospect of a hypothecated tax - where the money is channelled to address specific issues such as in children’s services - meant councillors should not reject a council tax rise out of hand.

He said: “Our financial planning is sound and last year the council agreed proposals for a three year rolling budget.

“But the pressures on local government finances increase year by year, with extra pressures in the year ahead because of government cuts and extra duties.
“For these reasons we are asking all of our councillors to have an open mind and not close off any options at this stage.

“I recognise that some councillors have been elected on a manifesto promise not to increase council tax, but these are unusual times for all councils and I ask them to consider the idea of a specific tax increase which is dedicated to a particular service for a limited amount of time.”
When asked which services those might be, Mr Nobbs said: “Obviously children’s services, which we have worked very hard to turn around, springs to mind, but there may well be others.

“If we can make the case for what the money is needed for, I think the public will be a lot more open to new ideas than some people give them credit for.”

Councillors have been taking part in budget workshops and the report by Mr Timmins will be presented to the council’s policy and resources committee next Friday.

The various council committees are then likely to be asked to make sure all efficiencies they can make have been made and will then be asked to develop further savings proposals for October.

At this stage, the council has not indicated what sort of council tax increase councillors could be asked to consider when the budget is set next February.

• Would you be prepared to pay more council tax to help sort out issues in children’s services? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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33 comments

  • NCC have been accruing massive debt for years through repeated bad governance and have shown no interest in paying it off. PFIs for streetlights and salt barns have astronomical repayments compared to the initial outlay, whoever has been responsible for this should swing. It is easy blaming government cuts for the situation Norfolk is in but the truth must be that ludicrously high repayments have to be made from the pot which goes towards services in the county. Come on EDP let’s see some figures for the annual debt repayments and how services are being cut to the bone because of them. Show Norfolk’s taxpayers where the money is going – to the banks.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

  • Unfortunately there is little understanding of electing councillors, for years the County Council was very badly run but people still voted for the same lot who were mismanaging public money now the depth of the mismanagement is revealed it is not those who get the blame but the people who now have to try & sort out the many years of incompetence - it can't be done overnight

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Sunday, August 31, 2014

  • Timmins. Name rings a bell. Wasn't he the chap who gave materially duff financial advice to councillors? Interim? How long is 'interim'? Should Mr Timmins still be in post? Or should he be on extended gardening leave, unpaid, and fitted with one of those ASBO ankle bracelet thingies pending the outcome of the so-called 'independent' inquiry?

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • “I recognise that some councillors have been elected on a manifesto promise not to increase council tax” Well, well, funny how the GNobb acknowledges this having totally ig.nored his sudden about turn the moment that he and his fellow Labour Cllrs were all elected on a manifesto promise to stop the incinerator.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Are you forgetting NCC has been a Tory lead Council for years. Labour have caught the messy end of the shovell.

    Report this comment

    Norfolkman

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Perhaps Borrett and the other idiots who signed the Incinerator deal might like to make a substantial donation.

    Report this comment

    Norfolkman

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Give me a red pen and l could save the money 10 fold

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • You are right Harry Rabinowitz, the top heavy admin needs to be trimmed. The council should start by providing a list of every council position both staff and contract so the people can decide if they are all really neccessary.

    Report this comment

    theanchovy

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • We can all complain, but the only thing to do can be done at the next election, vote them out, after all they got us into this mess

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Of course central government couls assist by providing aditional funds under extraordinary circumstances BUT this government is too busy giving large sums of money to those who don't need it & awarding contracts just as recklessly as the last Council did- how much could have been saved by not funding ;SERCO, ATOS, G4S? Stupid is nott he word for it.

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Surely the problem is not with the current council but with the one that went before with is't years of mismanagement and over costly sweetheart deals for substandard work? If you waste money,as the last Council did for many years sooner or later the bills have to be paid. We need to know just why the last lot signed a contract with no get out clause and why the Secretary of State failed to act responsibly.

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Typical labour, tax and spend! Think of all the wasted money, The NDR (No Direct Route), Coltishall, Incinerator plus compensation, no need to look any further. A very modest increase instead of a stand still for four years would have helped, cut the expenses and little jollies enjoyed at our expense. Look at the stupid road schemes like the bus lane follies.

    Report this comment

    blackdog2

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Taxation is already at a punitive level,and is already causing hardship in many families.Perhaps a ruthless pruning of top heavy public service administration is the answer,or making those responsible oft the incinerator fiasco pay for it out of their own pockets!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Sell Coltishall, as no one seems to know what the H.ell they are going to do with it.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • George Nobbs, sure that is a typo and it should be a K instead of an N !!!

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Any increase should be put in the Incinerator. Oh oops that is why it's going up, so NCC can pay Compo to Clegg and no not Nick !

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • No council tax rises in 5 years was utterly ridiculous. Two or three 1% rises in that time would have more than covered the current deficit.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Albert you hit it on the head.Bit like Rotherham Council no one speaks up or PC "police" come out of the woodwork

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Shhhhh! No one mention the incinerator debacle or the cost of doing up county hall and perhaps they will forget....No Chance. This lot are a disgrace.

    Report this comment

    Union Jack

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • We wouldn't be in this mess if NCC hadn`t wasted so much money on a failed attempt to build an incinerator at Lynn. The problem with the county is that it has become a dumping ground for people from all over the country with a myriad of social problems and from other parts of the world who are stretching services in the Norfolk to the limit. As usual it will be those who pay in full being penalised for those who don`t. Typical Labour strategy though - tax and spend. Its in their DNA.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Where are we expected to fund a rise from - next years pension increase will only be £2.50 a week.Councils need to manage within our means and plan for real savings.

    Report this comment

    philip

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Lord Mayors Parade, Firework Displays,Gay Pride festivities,and the list goes on should be stopped

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Tony, there may be an easy way to solve that problem. All it needs is for some carefully worded comments from MPs about defecting to UKIP and the cash given to Norfolk would be instantly increased

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • I wish someone could explain why Norfolk always gets a poor deal per head of population from central government. What ever colour the government is, do they not like us!

    Report this comment

    Tony

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Old Labour = new taxes. So no change there then.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Strangely, no mention is made of the £35m thrown away by NCC on its failed attempt to procure the construction of an outdated mass burn incinerator in West Norfolk. Those monies would have plugged the gap twice.

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Not much of a Finance Director if he can't think of how to save just over 1% of the budget. And to suggest that old red herring of ring fencing a council tax rise is dishonest. Despite the protests, there is still plenty of wastage in NCC which can easily cover any predicted shortfall.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Keith S - Not so. I believe the borrowing for the NDR is funded from the revenue account.

    Report this comment

    Barbara

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Yes KeithS, different budget, that old chestnut always comes to the fore when it suits.

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • This is the true colours of Labour, put up taxes and waste money just like the labour government did. Would it be possible to have an administration that knows what it's doing, the last lot didn't and this rainbow coalition is a bigger joke. Could it be the whole NCC set up needs killing off.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Catton Man: different budget!

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Surely the need to sort Childrens Services was to ensure children got the help they needed not reduce the number in care.Unfortunately doing a good job probably means more children in care not less.

    Report this comment

    jennifer jane

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • This would not be expectable when £millions are being wasted on a dead-end NDR, solely for the benefit of the developers.

    Report this comment

    Catton Man

    Friday, August 29, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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