Norfolk County Council still has to find £13m of savings from budget

Norfolk County Council's County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

Norfolk County Council's County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

The strain on Norfolk County Council's finances was laid bare at a meeting yesterday, at which it emerged that although the 'black hole' in its accounts for next year had been reduced, there was still £13m left to be found.

The authority's policy and resources committee heard that a lower-than-expected level of funding from central government had cancelled out earlier progress on reducing what it describes as its 'spending gap'.

At a meeting at the beginning of the month, the committee heard that the gap had been £17.5m –prompting efficiencies of £11.3m to be identified. However, funding of £8.2m under the government's Better Care Fund, rather than the anticipated £15m, has pushed the shortfall back to £13m.

GRAPHIC: Norfolk County Council's finances laid bare

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Yesterday's meeting heard that the main pressures were on 'looked after' children, with a £1.7m potential overspend, and adult social care - with a £3.7m overspend.

Council Leader George Nobbs said: 'We went through a rigorous review of the council's services last year and consulted the public on saving £189m over three years (2015-18).

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'This year the financial gap is consequently much smaller, but there is also less scope for further efficiencies and savings.

'However, the good thing is that officers and councillors have come up with a practical set of proposals to meet the new target, which is caused by a further squeeze on councils by central government.'

The committee yesterday noted the £11.3m in savings, and agreed that departments should do everything possible this year to get their spending and savings back on course. But that would still leave £1.7m to be found, which service committees will try to share between departments.

They are as follows: children's services, £310,000; adult social services. £395,000; cultural services, £105,000; environment, transport and development, £385,000; fire rescue, £95,000; resources and finance, £405,000.

The council has already found £69m in savings this year (2014 to 2015) and in February built £40m in savings into the budget for next year.

The budget development process can be followed on Norfolk County Council's websiteThe 2015/16 budget will be set by the full council on February 16, 2015.

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