Revealed: How spending at your council will change between now and 2019
- Credit: Bill Smith - Archant
Councils will be left shouldering a tax burden the Chancellor is unwilling to impose himself, Norfolk's county council leader has warned.
George Nobbs said a further £3m or £4m of cuts beyond those set out in October would be needed at County Hall as the Government released its local council settlement which showed the spending power of some councils could fall by as much as 15pc, even with council tax hikes.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark announced details of a new four-year settlement which will pave the way to the end of the decade when councils will be expected to rely on funds raised locally rather than Whitehall grants.
Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs said that while the overall settlement was broadly in line with the council's financial projections set out in October, changes to funding, including for care and a grant to freeze council tax, could mean the council has to find a further £3m or £4m.
'The Chancellor has already made it plain that he expects councils to raise council tax by 2pc to cover shortfall in adult social services and he also expects police services to raise their share of council tax. This appears to be a general trend, and taken with a non-appearance of a freeze grant, there appears to be a major shift in direction by the Chancellor who now expects local authorities to pick up the tax burden that he is unwilling to impose himself,' he said.
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Wyndham Northam, cabinet member for finance at North Norfolk District Council said while next year's settlement had been what they had expected, future year settlements had seen bigger reductions than they had initially thought there would be.
But the council said it had no plans to put up council tax, which would only be a last resort.
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Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Graham Plant, said: 'We're yet to work out the finer details, and of course the devil is in the detail, but initially it looks a lot better than we thought it was going to be.'
King's Lynn and West Norfolk leader Nick Daubney said the reduction was a little bigger than they had budgeted for, which meant they had three years to find rather more savings.
'We are not a million miles off, we had started the programme of looking for the savings, but the gap is that much bigger.
'In two years time we were anticipated to have to make savings of a bit over £2m, but that figures looks like it is nearer to £3m now.'
But he said the Conservatives would keep their manifesto commitment not to raise council tax over and above inflation.
Waveney District Council said the settlement had been worse than expected, but no decision had been made about whether to put up council tax.
'As a council with which faces financial challenges we must of course consider all options for providing the funding required to protect and deliver essential services to our communities,' a spokesman said.
'We never seek to make cuts to services however they can never be ruled out. Our priority, as part of our shared business plan with Suffolk Coastal, is to continue our drive for greater efficiency. That being said, simply continuing to improve efficiency and reducing costs will not be enough to enable us to deliver all that we want.'
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