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Green light to find £169m of cuts at Norfolk County Council

PUBLISHED: 13:28 01 June 2015 | UPDATED: 13:28 01 June 2015

Norfolk County Council's County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

Norfolk County Council's County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

Archant

Work to find a further £169m of cuts and savings at Norfolk County Council will start next month, after councillors agreed to ask departments to plan for a reduction of a quarter in their spending.

A new “Reimagining Norfolk” strategy, which would bring what County Hall officers describe as “fundamental change” in how services are provided to people in the county, was agreed today.

It will mean every department at County Hall - including adult social services, children’s services and the fire and rescue service - is to be asked to look at ways to reduce its addressable spending by a quarter over the next three years.

The vision for Norfolk is for a public service created by forging alliances with other organisations, such as district councils and voluntary groups to help bring down the costs of providing services.

One example of the possible shake-up is a likely shift away from looking after vulnerable elderly people in care homes and working with voluntary organisations to keep them in their own homes.

The council actually needs to make £111m over the next three years, but departments will be asked to find more in order to give room for choice over where the axe falls.

Conservative Ian Monson asked if that would see the council ‘downsizing’.

Managing director Dr Wendy Thomson said: “I think it is reasonable to assume that, with this amount of money, we will be smaller than now. Exactly where will be, we cannot say at this time, but we are already significantly smaller than we were three years ago.”

It will mean a seismic shift in the way the council works and the authority acknowledges that will mean no longer providing some services.

Green councillor Adrian Dearnley questioned whether committees would be able to identify such deep savings, which he said could set a “dangerous precedent”.

Cliff Jordan, leader of the Conservative group, said he wished the Labour/UKIP/Liberal Democrat alliance the “best of British” in tackling the need to make savings, although he and his group abstained on the vote.

He said: “We have been asking for two years for you to get on with this. You get on with it and we will monitor it.”

County Hall’s various committees will now be tasked with coming up with possible savings.

The council said it will also talk to the public about possible changes.

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