Norfolk County Council freezes its share of council tax

Norfolk County Council has set its budget for the next financial year, confirming �44m worth of savings and a freeze for its share of council tax.

But the ruling Conservative group also announced it had found extra cash to create apprenticeships.

The council agreed a revenue and capital budget of �674m for the financial year of 2012/13 at a meeting in County Hall. The budget will see a further �44m saved next year, on top of the �60m cut this year following the council's Big Conversation.

Before the meeting, anti-cuts campaigners, including members of Unison and the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People, protested outside County Hall. They were concerned at plans to cut �3.5m from the day-services budget, concerns which were also raised at the meeting by the Green group and Liberal Democrats.

But the Conservative budget, which includes those cuts – and the loss of up to 360 full-time jobs – was agreed by 43 votes to 17, with one abstention.

The budget included proposals for �3.5m to spend on road maintenance, �5.4m to provide extra places in Norfolk for looked after children, �3m to provide apprenticeships for young people and �2.5m to invest in adult social service prevention, to help smaller voluntary groups adapt to new ways of providing care.

And at yesterday's meeting, the ruling Conservative group announced a further �891,000 to create 81 apprenticeship positions within the Norse Group over the coming year.

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That deal will also see the Norse Group providing nearly �800,000 of extra investment towards the young peoples' training and development.

It will include 45 posts in building maintenance, craft roles, vehicle fitters, grounds maintenance and environmental services, 20 care-work positions, a dozen in business, manage- ment or administrative services and five in professional surveying, engineering and accounting.

A further project will see the county council, under the government's 'Get Britain Working' initiative, create up to 50 work placements, of between two and eight weeks in length, for unemployed graduates.

Another announcement yesterday was for �219,000 for a new Norfolk Citizenship Initiative, which City College Norwich will be involved with to find ways into work for Norfolk's young people.

Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'Every day families and individuals face tough decisions about their own budgets and I do not think they would forgive a council which shirks the responsibility to do likewise.'

A proposal by Labour which would have provided half-fare travel for young people in Norfolk is to be referred to a review panel.

Suffolk County Council last week agreed �26m of cuts in its budget, with freezes for its part of the council-tax bill and member allowances.

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