Council tax bill increase for people in Norfolk edges nearer

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

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

A 3.99pc increase in how much council tax people in Norfolk pay to County Hall has moved a step closer.

But Norfolk County Council leaders have said they cannot keep expecting people in the county to pay more to help ease pressures on adult social care - calling on the government to give long-term funding.

And the council has warned, while they are confident the budget will be balanced over the next year, 2020/21 has a £35m shortfall, rising to £89m by 2024.

The Conservative-controlled cabinet today agreed to recommend its budget for 2020/21 to full council.

Council bosses say the £427.7m budget includes £34.6m into adult social care, although that department's budget also includes £23m of savings, mainly through trying to keep people out of residential care and in their own homes.

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Next year's budget would put £23.3m more into children's services, including £11m for budget pressures such as paying for looked after children.

But there are also £7.3m of savings, mainly through changes to how services are delivered.

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Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said, in the face of rising demands and costs, the council was "running to stand still" and need the government to come up with fairer funding for councils.

While the government's announcement of £1bn for social care has given the council an £18m boost, Mr Jamieson said one-off cash was not the solution,

The council tax increase will mean people will pay about £50 a year extra to County Hall if the authority's budget is agreed next month.

Of that portion of the tax, 2pc is ring-fenced for adult social care.

That would increase a Band D property bill from £1,362.24 to £1,416.51.

But Mr Jamieson said: "While short-term funding is extremely welcome, local taxation is not a sustainable solution to long term care funding."

Parents of disabled children, who have seen their care costs increased because of council changes had attended the meeting.

Council leaders Andrew Proctor has said there would be no reversal of those changes and the council's "finite resources" had to be used to provide services to all residents in Norfolk.

But the council has said it will find £1m to cover the cost to care companies of a higher than expected increase in the National Living Wage.

After the meeting, Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said: "Suddenly, they can magic up £1m because of an underestimate for the impact of the National Living Wage on the private care market, but they can't find money to reverse suffering for disabled people which even the prime minister has accepted is not on."

The full council will take the final decision on the budget on February 17.

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