Cuts are looming, warns Norwich City Council

Norwich City Council has revealed it could have to cut what it spends on frontline services by �1.5m next year.

City Hall faces making �12.2m savings over the next four years and had been trying to avoid the axe falling on public services.

But, having made millions of pounds of savings behind the scenes over the past three years, officers have warned it is now impossible to deliver future savings without hitting public services.

While the council has yet to reveal where the cuts might fall, the cabinet will next week discuss a confidential report detailing the options.

That comes ahead of a 12-week consultation with the public over the proposals, which will start at the end of this month.

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Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'We have got to a point where we have to make choices and, in the spirit of listening to the people of Norwich, that is why we are going out to consultation.

'It is about cuts, but also about making best use of the money we have got. I am grateful that the work we have done to make savings over the past three years have enabled us to wait to have this consultation.

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'We want to ensure the public sector provides the best service we possibly can while providing value for money and I hope people will see we will be clear in giving information and asking people to make an informed choice as to how we spend money in what are challenging times.'

City Hall officers say the amount of money it gets from the government, known as the formula grant, was cut by more than 29pc between 2010/11 and 2011/12 – a reduction from �15.1m to �11.2m.

The council, which has already held back �850,000 of spending this year and taken �1m from reserves, says it needs to save �4.6m next year.

Officers propose that �3.58m is saved by becoming more efficient, new ways of working and cutting service costs, with just under �1.5m earmarked to be saved by changing the level of service or the way the council provides a service.

The report which will go before the cabinet next Wednesday states: 'Wherever possible, savings options that won't directly impact service levels to the public have been put forward. To deliver further significant savings without any impact on the public is not viable.'

Norfolk County Council has already held its Big Conversation with the public and rubber-stamped �60m of cuts for this year as part of �155m savings over the next three years.

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