Biggest increase in council tax for five years on cards for people in Norwich
- Credit: PA
People in Norwich could be facing the biggest hike in their council tax bills for years.
But political leaders today insisted that possible increases are necessary to stave off cuts to front-line services.
More than £50 a year could be added to city bills for Band D properties and just over £42 for a Band B home, if Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner all up their share of the tax.
Norfolk County Council is considering a 3.99pc increase in its share, of which 2pc would go towards a new precept ring-fenced to pay for adult social care.
County Hall leaders said the increase, which would be the first in the county council's share for five years and would add more than £45 to its share of the bill for a Band D property, is needed to prevent some of the proposed £123m worth of cuts.
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George Nobbs, Labour leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'We are in this position because the burden of taxation, as the chancellor of the exchequer has mentioned quite publicly, has shifted from central government to local government.
'There's no longer any pretence on his part that local authorities can make savings by so-called 'efficiencies' because he has said he expects local authorities to increase council tax by 2pc a year for the next four years to cover increased costs in adult social services and his calculations are also based upon councils increasing council tax by at least the rate of inflation.
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'The fact that our four service committees have voted for tax increases should give a fair indication of the way the wind is blowing.'
The county council's policy and resources committee will meet to discuss the potential increase on Monday, but today, the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel, made up of Norfolk councillors and independent members, will meet to review the county's police and crime commissioner's proposed precept.
Police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett has put forward two options. One is a council tax freeze, but the other is for a 1.98pc increase, which would add an average of about £4 a year to the share of the tax which goes to the police, bringing in some £1m more to be spent on the force. He will reveal his preferred option at this morning's meeting.
And Norwich City Council's cabinet will tomorrow to discuss a 1.95pc increase in City Hall's share of the tax. That would add £4.67 to a Band D property.
Alan Waters, Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'This is a continuation of George Osborne's austerity. We have had further cuts and there is uncertainty over the New Homes Bonus, which we have benefitted from in previous years.
'Increasing council tax is one of the small ways in which we can bolster our budget to improve our financial situation and the cost will be roughly £3.50 a year for the majority of homes in the city. 'Despite all of that, we are still having to find £10.3m of budget reductions over five years. There's more uncertainty about this budget than I have ever known in my 25 years on the council.'
Final decisions on council tax increases will be made later this month. South Norfolk Council, which sets a precept for places such as Costessey and Cringleford, is likely to increase its share, while Broadland District Council, which covers areas such as Thorpe St Andrew and Sprowston, is planning for a council tax freeze.
• What do you think? Are you happy to pay more to protect services or are you unhappy about the proposed increases? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org