North Norfolk District Council facing £1m funding gap

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council - Credit: Archant

A North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) chief has warned of difficult days ahead as the authority strives to plug an expected £1m-plus gap in its budget by 2016-2017.

Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of North Norfolk District Council.

Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: Archant

Further jobs cuts, savings on contracts, and selling services are among cost-cutting and money-making ideas now being considered by the council.

Sheila Oxtoby, NNDC chief executive, anticipated that central government would be cutting its funding to the council by about 10pc each year.

In a bid to counter the impact, NNDC was examining areas including axing more posts, saving about £150,000. 'We would be looking to do that, as far as possible, without compulsory redundancies,' said Mrs Oxtoby.

Last year NNDC cut its corporate management team from five to three.

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The council is one of the district's largest employers, with about 300 staff.

New and renegotiated contracts could result in a further £300,000 of savings and the council hopes that a minimum of £70,000 could be saved through changes in areas including the provision of CCTV cameras.

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Sharing services with other local authorities is also being considered together with selling council expertise - for example its payroll service - to other public bodies and charities as a cash-making measure.

NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said they did not know exactly how much of a funding gap there would be because it depended on what the coalition government decided in the future and there could be more 'surprises.'

'Anyone who thinks it's going to be anything other than a difficult process with some tough decisions over the next few years is fooling themselves,' said Mr FitzPatrick.

'There are signs of recovery in the national economy but it's very slow. We're coming up from the bottom of a valley rather than climbing a mountain.

'At the end of the day we are here to provide services and it's about balancing that with the need to make savings.'

Mrs Oxtoby said that without the government's New Homes Bonus scheme - which gives councils cash for each new home built or empty home brought back into use - NNDC would have been facing a gap of nearly £2m next year alone. The bonus generated about £700,000 pa for NNDC.

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