Councillors and officers at odds over tax rise for Norfolk

Norfolk County Council tax bill. Picture: Denise Bradley

The amount council tax bills in Norfolk should go up by has been a source of friction at County Hall. - Credit: Archant

The amount council tax bills in Norfolk should go up by has generated friction between officers and councillors at County Hall.

Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council is consulting on a 2.99pc rise in its share of council tax, plus £31m of savings, of which £24.5m would need to be made in 2022/23.

But that recommendation - which would add about £44 to the annual bill for a Band D property - was not the advice of County Hall finance bosses.

Simon George, the council's finance director, had said the council should consult over increasing council tax by the maximum amount allowable by the government.

That would be 3.99pc in 2022/23 and 2.99pc in each of the next three years.

But Conservative councillors are only consulting on the 2.99pc increase - and opposition councillors said that means £5m more cuts and savings will need to be found.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: "In short it’s a mess, and those who will pay, either in cash, care or cuts, are those least able to manage.

"They are consulting on another big council tax increase but not what they intend to spend it on.

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"They are tying themselves in knots. Not increasing council tax up as much as their government expects should be a good thing, but it means £5m more in cuts to essential services.

"There will be a difficult conversation when they go cap in hand to their government and have to explain how they can find another £5m but are asking for more."

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the council's scrutiny committee meeting this week, where Mr George explained what his recommendation had been.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Andrew Jamieson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for finance. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

But Andrew Jamieson, Conservative cabinet member for finance said, while officers advised, it was councillors who made decisions - and they had decided to aim to keep tax lower and "look at ourselves for savings first".

The proposal out for consultation at www.norfolk.gov.uk/budget is for a 1.99pc council tax rise, plus a further increase of 1pc of the total council tax bill, ring fenced for adult social care.

A final decision on the council's budget will be made next February.

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