District's residents facing council tax increase

The North Norfolk District Council offices at Cromer. Photo: Archant

The North Norfolk District Council offices at Cromer. Photo: Archant - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

An increase in the district's portion of council tax bills is on the cards in North Norfolk.

On Wednesday, January 13, members of North Norfolk's overview and scrutiny committee discussed the draft budget for the next financial year.

Among the proposals in the 2021/22 budget is a council tax increase of £4.95 for a band D property, which would lift the NNDC element of the total bill from £153.72 to £158.67 per year.

The main part of each bill goes to Norfolk County Council, which has yet to decide on any potential rise.

Nigel Housden asked how much support there was for an increase in council tax, and if it was fair and reasonable.

Eric Seward, portfolio holder for finance and assets, said in the past, the council had received a grant from central government in order to prevent it having to increase council tax.

He said if it were offered again, the council would accept it.

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Lucy Hume, chief technical accountant for NNDC, said: "Council tax support has risen significantly in North Norfolk over the last year or so. We are mindful of the fact that when furlough does end we are expecting to see an increase in that."

Ms Hume said an increase in people needing council tax support would have several impacts, including the amount of council tax income NNDC could collect.

She said there would also be people who may struggle to pay their bills and so the council expected to see "bad debts" to increase.

Ms Hume said the local authority had considered both of these and other factors affecting council tax when proposing increasing the NNDC proportion of council tax.

She said: "While obviously it's not ideal to pass on an extra charge to the taxpayer, central government, as part of their settlement did assume that we would do that and take full advantage of the increase in core spending power.

"Obviously, it isn't ideal in a pandemic situation. If we look again at that decision we would be looking at potentially dipping into reserves to cover that shortfall, so it's a difficult decision to make."

The council will formally agree the budget for 2021/22 at full council in February. 

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