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Allowances, sell-offs and care costs for disabled people: Norfolk County Council quizzed over savings

PUBLISHED: 17:04 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:38 30 September 2019

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.

Norfolk County Council

Tough choices are having to be made as Norfolk County Council wrestles with its budget next year, the county councillor responsible for County Hall's finances has warned.

Norfolk County Council's headquarters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.Norfolk County Council's headquarters at County Hall in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finances and Simon George, the council's director of finance, answered questions from the public in an EDP Facebook Live broadcast on Monday.

The council revealed last week that it is looking at further £15.8m of savings in 2021/21, on top of £31.1m of savings already agreed.

The budgeting is being based on a predicated 3.99pc council tax increase, including a 2pc increase specifically to pay for adult social care.

The public, however, quizzed Mr Jamieson over the council's decision to change the care costs for disabled people and for supported living.

Mr Jamieson said: "We are, indeed, having to make some very tough decisions in relation to individuals.

"We believe, that overall, the savings we are making can work as a coherent whole, but we are working within some very tight limits."

But Mr Jamieson then faced questions about why councillors had voted to increase their own allowances - and had not ruled out doing so again.

He said: "The whole point of allowances is to enable the broadest possible demographic to become county councillors."

There were also questions about school land sell-off. Mr Jamieson said: "There are two areas where we are selling off council land. We recently created a new corporate entity, Repton Homes.

"That is there to deliver homes for our people at a reasonable cost while making a reasonable return to the county council.

"Other areas where we are selling of assets is when there is no use currently at all.

"An example is the infant school in Hunstanton, which has not been a school for many years."

And the decision to employ an assistant to council leader Andrew Proctor, with a salary of up to £40,000 was also questioned.

Mr George said the council no longer had a chief executive and had switched to an executive leader.

He said: "The leader's office is taking on more of the day-to-day decision making and running of the council and it's important that office has the right level of support in order to make those decisions in the best way."

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