Wrangle over power station business rates comes at £1m cost for social care in Norfolk
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2006
A wrangle over the business rates payable by power stations has stopped an extra £1m being used to help Norfolk's most vulnerable people, according to the county council leader.
Norfolk County Council is next week due to set its budget for the forthcoming year, which includes £10.5m of service cuts, along with efficiencies of more than £19m. That comes on top of £40m of savings already agreed.
County Hall last week received what sounded like good news, when officers said Norfolk would get £1.14m extra from the government from a new pot to improve provision of social care.
But council leader George Nobbs, said his hope the cash would boost social care was soon dashed, when it emerged the money Norfolk's district councils collected in business rates fell £1.1m short of the sum the council thought it would get.
The main reason, according to the County Hall, is a £995,000 reduction in the share from Great Yarmouth Borough Council, because of a legal battle over power stations.
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Centrica is seeking a £6m refund from HM Revenue and Customs, relating to the business rates on the energy giant's Peterborough gas-fired power station, which is going through the High Court.
With a decision due later this year, Great Yarmouth Borough Council is establishing a fund for if it has to pay back RWE Generation, which has a power station at South Denes Road.
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George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said spending on social care was partly through money generated by business rates, so the extra government cash would be used to plug the shortfall.
He said: 'Some district councils have given us more than expected and the government has given us £1.1m more, but the total effect is that we are no better off.'
Mr Nobbs sent an email to members in which he expressed his 'dismay' at the 'very late' news from Great Yarmouth Borough Council. He stressed the budget itself would not be affected.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council did not comment, as the relevant officer was not available yesterday, but Graham Plant, leader of the council's opposition Conservative group, described it as 'a shambles'.
Richard Bearman, leader of the Green group at County Hall said it was 'outrageous' the money had been allocated to 'balance the books'.
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