Leader warns of £3m spending blow to services for Norwich people

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. - Credit: Archant

Some £3m which could have been spent on services for people in Norwich is set to be lost over the next four years, because the government is planning to take money away from City Hall, the authority's leader has warned.

And Alan Waters, the Labour leader of Norwich City Council, said it was 'perverse' that the government was going to divert money which district, borough and city councils could have received through the New Homes Bonus to councils which pay for social care.

Mr Waters said the government's decision over the New Homes Bonus, which had previously seen councils which grant planning permission for housing rewarded with extra money, would hit the authority, which is already cutting £2m a year, hard.

And he said without a change of heart on the government's part the move would also take away an incentive for councils to build housing.

He said shifting the baseline beneath which councils are no longer given money for new housing would mean Norwich would get an award for just 4pc of growth - the equivalent of getting money for just 11 of 337 new homes built in the city.

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Coupled with changes to the revenue support grant, he said it means, between now and 2020, City Hall will have £3.2m less to spend on services - a 15.9pc reduction in spending power. Mr Waters said only three councils in the country were in a worse position.

Mr Waters said: 'It just seems perverse. We have been asked to sign up to a four year sustainable plan by the government, so we can plan our spending, but this pretty much undermines all that.'

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Mike Stonard, the council's cabinet member for resources and business liaison, said: 'What they are doing is moving the goalposts against a context of massive savings we are going to have to make and have been making already.'

A motion at tomorrow's full council meeting will call for the authority to ask the government to think again and find a national solution for adult social care, rather than shifting money from local councils.

The local government finance settlement is due to be laid before Parliament next month. The government has said funding needs to be released for adult social care and the New Homes Bonus changes mean money would reward additional housing, rather than normal growth.

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