Council tax increase of 4.8pc in Norfolk agreed and no reprieve over charity funding cuts

Norfolk County Council. County Hall. Photo : Steve Adams

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

People in Norfolk will pay 4.8pc more in council tax to County Hall next year, while funding for charities which try to prevent homelessness will be cut.

County councillors today agreed to increase its share of the council tax, with part of the hike to pay for adult social care.

Council 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 £48m of savings will be made, chiefly through back office savings.

However, over the next three years, nearly £5m will be cut from a budget used to commission services from charities and housing providers.

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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.

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

They 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.

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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 abstention, with one member of the public yelling: 'You'll have blood on your hands'.

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.

MORE: Live coverage of Norfolk County Council budget meeting as councillors vote on biggest council tax rise in years

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.

A Green amendment, to head off some of the cuts to housing support by increasing council tax to 4.99pc, was also defeated.

The budget was ultimately agreed, after more than four hours of debate, by 41 votes to 33, with three abstentions.

It means a band D property will pay £57 a year more to the county council, on top of the increase of just below 2pc for policing.

District councils are meeting this week to decide whether to increase their share of the tax.

Of the 4.8pc County Hall increase, 3pc is specifically to pay for adult social care.

Suffolk County Council put up its element of council tax by three percent earlier this month.

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