Attempt to stave off millions of pounds of council cuts in Norfolk is defeated

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

An attempt to stave off millions of pounds of council cuts in Norfolk has been defeated.

People in Norfolk will today discover if the share of council tax they pay to County Hall will go up by 4.8pc - with part of the hike to pay for adult social care. And a string of charities are on tenterhooks over millions of pounds of proposed cuts which they say could lead to an increase in homelessness.

Norfolk County Council meets today to set its budget for the year ahead.

The Conservative-led council wants to increase its share of the council tax by 4.8pc - the biggest increase in years and one which would add an extra £1.10 a week to people's bills.

MORE: Live coverage of Norfolk County Council budget meeting as councillors vote on biggest council tax rise in yearsCouncil leaders say that will raise £25m to pump into adult social care and £9m for children's services - a department currently rated as inadequate by watchdogs.

But £44m of savings will be made, chiefly through back office savings.

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But some £4.5m will be cut from a budget used to commission services from charities and housing providers.

Organisations such as Norfolk YMCA, The Benjamin Foundation and Equal Lives say the cuts from the Building Resilient Lives budget would reduce their ability to deliver housing support services,

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They have warned that could lead to more people becoming homeless, while Norwich City Council leaders have said that could heap pressure on their already stretched resources.

Protesters against the cuts gathered outside County Hall before today's meeting.

And Labour put forward an amendment, seconded by the Liberal Democrats, to bring forward back office cuts to reverse £1.2m of the Building Resilient Lives cuts.

But Conservatives attacked the proposal, saying officers had said the back office savings would not be achievable.

And leader Cliff Jordan said it was now the responsibility of the district councils, not the county council, to tackle homelessness.

The Lab/Lib Dem amendment also wanted to use capital cash to put £2.75m into keeping children with special educational needs within Norfolk.

But Conservative Roger Smith, chairman of the children's services committee said that proposal was 'so vague as to be tokenisation'.

The Labour/Lib Dem amendment was defeated by 41 votes to 37, with one member of the public yelling: 'You'll have blood on your hands'.

The council will continue debating the budget into the afternoon.

A UKIP amendment, to reverse a £622,000 cut to libraries and £420,000 cut to the fire service, both scheduled for 2018/19, was defeated by 41 votes to 38.

UKIP's Paul Smyth warned there were already retained firefighter stations with poor availability, even without further cuts.

But deputy leader Alison Thomas said the library service changes would mean libraries could open later and that it was premature to reject undeveloped savings to the Fire service.

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