County faces public service cuts

Householders in Norfolk have been warned they may still face public service cuts and a rise in council tax this year - despite a 10pc rise in government funding for county hall.

Householders in Norfolk have been warned they may still face public service cuts and a rise in council tax this year - despite a 10pc rise in government funding for county hall.

Norfolk County Council was told in December it would receive £12m more from Whitehall than expected in 2008 - a bigger rise than the average 3.6pc grant increase for shire counties.

The government's move was hailed at the time as a “fair deal” at last for Norfolk after years of meagre financial settlements from ministers.

But now county council leaders have warned that they could still impose an inflation-busting council tax rise amid concerns that the extra government cash is still not enough to cover its rising costs.


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The county's Tory leader, Daniel Cox, said that in the worst case, overall spending could still be slashed by up to £22m and council tax rises would be the only way to soften the blow.

Ironically, the county cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss how to spend the extra £12m from the government - and a proposal to spend more than half of it on care services for vulnerable adults.

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Mr Cox said: “We are pleased to have been given a grant settlement on the upper scale of things and I have to say it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

“The £22m in cuts is our worse case scenario and we have a sliding scale on how our budgets could be set.

“We will never have enough money to provide all the services we want to provide. It is always the case that we will have some really tough choices to make in our budget.”

But Mr Cox pledged that even with the authority's budget problems the council would never come near to raising council tax by the maximum 5pc allowed by the government.

In 2009-10 the council is set to receive a 5.9pc rise in its grant settlement from the government -an increase of £12.6m - and in 2010-11 it will be given a 5.3pc rise.

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