County council could have to save up to £47m to balance books

County Hall in Norwich

File picture of County Hall in Norwich. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Difficult choices will be required to balance the county council’s budget, in the face of rising costs and uncertainty over future funding.

That’s the message from Norfolk County Council, which predicts the need to save more than £39 million next year – or £47.8 million, if council tax is frozen.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said a new report set out the council’s current financial prospects, before proposals are developed and put out to public consultation in October.

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

He said: “We’re facing a menu of unpalatable options, unless the government grasps the nettle and sorts out council funding – especially for adult social care.

“I’m proud of the work this council does every day, to support the people of Norfolk and particularly during this challenging, pandemic year.

“But we can only stretch the elastic so far. Without fair, sustained funding, we’re going to have to make painful choices over savings, higher council tax, or both.”

Mr Jamieson said it was too early to speculate on detailed proposals but confirmed the cabinet was going to look at all areas of spending.

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The report reveals that:

  • The council predicts it will have to save £109 million over the next four years, to 2025/26 – with £39.037 million to save next year
  • The government assumes councils will raise council tax within the referendum limit which is set annually – currently expected to be a 1.99 per cent rise in general council tax
  • The council’s planning includes a one per cent increase in the adult social care precept, deferred from 2021-22
  • If the county council chose not to increase council tax next year, it would have to find a further £8.7 million of savings next year, rising to £37.2 million extra over five years

Proposed savings for next year, per department, are:

  • Adult Social Services: £17.700m
  • Children's Services: £8.700m
  • Community and Environmental Services: £8.700m
  • Finance and Commercial Services: £1.800m
  • Finance General: £1.300m
  • Governance: £0.400m
  • Strategy and Transformation: £0.500m
  • Total savings target: £39.100m

Norfolk County Council's cabinet will consider the report when it meets at 10am on July 5.