Lowest ever Norfolk council tax rise approved

Sarah HallThe lowest ever hike in council tax bills in Norfolk has been rubber stamped - as part of a controversial finance package which will see �25.6m cut from services.Sarah Hall

The lowest ever hike in council tax bills in Norfolk has been rubber stamped - as part of a controversial finance package which will see �25.6m cut from services.

Conservative-run Norfolk County Council's cabinet yesterday agreed its budget for 2010/11, which includes raising its share of the council tax bill by only 1.9pc in the coming financial year.

But the council also agreed to freeze the pay of thousands of council staff, while 65 jobs are set to go and more could follow as part of a backroom shake-up of the 600 most senior managers.

Daniel Cox, council leader, said: "The scale of the challenge we have faced in preparing this budget could not be clearer.

"In the coming financial year we face additional budget pressures of just over �45m. To offset this, we will get a grant uplift from the govern-ment of just over �12m. In order to deliver this budget at the level of council tax increase I am proposing, we need to make �25.6m of savings."

Mr Cox said streamlining, finding efficiencies and providing better value had to percolate all the way through the county council to help tackle the "perfect storm" which the public sector was facing.

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The spending plan, which now has to go before a full council vote, will see cuts of more than �10m in both adult and children's services departments, including selling off some day centres used by people with learning difficulties, cutting a bathing service subsidy, and freezing grants to voluntary organisations and independent care groups.

For youngsters there are also plans to cut �1.3m from the home to schools and special needs transport budgets, and cutting �2.4m by reducing expensive out-of-county placements for children in care.

Opposition councillors have said the plans could hit some of the most vulnerable in the county hardest, while most of the investment was based on projects largely funded by the government.

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