Council tax bills could rise by 2pc to fund adult social care

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council. Photo: Bill Smith

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council. Photo: Bill Smith

Norfolk residents will be asked whether they want the council to use their new powers to increase council tax by 2pc to fund adult social care.

Yesterday's government spending review also included plans to let council reduce business rates, and sell off assets to fund services.

Norfolk County Council's adult social care budget has been under increasing pressure, and is currently on course to go 6.5pc over budget this year.

Chancellor George Osborne said councils needed new sources of funding to meet growing social care needs, and outlined plans to let them levy a 'social care precept' of up to 2pc on council tax bills.

They were already allowed to raise council tax by just under 2pc without the need for a referendum.

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Council leader George Nobbs said the proposal would be added to the council's current budget consultation, but, said the chancellor's announcements would not avoid the need to make millions of pounds of cuts.

He added: 'It's totally wrong for the chancellor to pretend it is a solution to the adult social care crisis in the country.'

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Jonathan Dunning, Unison branch secretary, said: 'It most certainly won't solve the crisis. It's a sticking plaster approach and the scale of the budget reductions being looked for in adult social care are colossal, and demand in Norfolk is large.'

The chancellor confirmed long-trailed plans to allow councils to keep all the money raised in business rates, which he said would allow him to phase out the government's grant to councils, which represents less than a quarter of their income.

He will also let them cut rates to increase economic growth.

Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, said it would increase local accountability. Asked whether his council might cut rates, added: 'If more attractive rates attract more business, it would be a decision we would look at closely.'

The chancellor will also let councils keep 100pc of money raised from selling off assets.

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