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Council tax rise for people in Norfolk moves step nearer

PUBLISHED: 13:07 05 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:06 05 October 2020

Norfolk County Council is to ask the public what they think of an increase in their share of council tax. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norfolk County Council is to ask the public what they think of an increase in their share of council tax. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

Frontline services for Norfolk people will be protected as much as possible, councillors have said - as they face a mutli-million pound funding gap.

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 is proposing £26m of new savings proposals next year, but even with those cuts, it still faces a £15m gap.

The council’s Conservative-controlled cabinet agreed on Monday to the proposed savings to feed into next year’s budget.

And the cabinet agreed to consult the public over a 1.99pc rise in its share of the council tax and a 2pc increase in the adult social care precept - money ring-fenced for adult social care.

Members of the cabinet said many of the savings would be found in the ‘back office’, by redesigning services and through becoming more efficient.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said: “The vast majority of our services are maintained despite these savings.”

And Graham Plant, the council’s deputy leader, highlighted how back office savings would be explored before front-facing service cuts.

He said: “I think the public should be reassured that we are looking at ourselves in these savings, as well as making sure we are as efficient as we possibly can be in providing these services.”

Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, said he supported the proposed 2pc precept raise to pay for adult social care - which would bring in £8.5m for the council to use.

He said such an increase would help the council’s case in arguing for fairer funding from national government, by demonstrating the council was serious about ensuring money was available for such services.

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Among the savings which are proposed are for fewer community librarians, reduced hours for recycling centres, less frequent cutting of grass verges and an end to newspapers and magazines in libraries.

And Unison has warned that the back office savings could lead to the public getting poorer services from the council.

Jonathan Dunning, Unison’s county branch secretary, said: “This round of budget proposals sees the risk of numerous county council workers facing redundancy.

“It will also have an impact on services the public benefit from, such as will happen from the deletion of the community librarian posts.”

Every year since the Conservatives took office people in Norfolk have paid more but got less in terms of services. Every year residents feel the cost of Tory failures in making promised efficiencies and long term failure to deliver an economic strategy for the county. It is obvious more cuts are on the way but for a change Norfolk Conservatives need to be honest with the public about where these will fall and who will lose out.

Dan Roper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall, said: “Every year since the Conservatives took office people in Norfolk have paid more but got less in terms of services.

“Every year residents feel the cost of Tory failures in making promised efficiencies and long term failure to deliver an economic strategy for the county.

“It is obvious more cuts are on the way Norfolk Conservatives need to be honest with the public about where these will fall and who will lose out.”

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said: “The tone of the cabinet is all that matters is balancing the books – but what about the people of Norfolk?

“You can’t keep giving them less and charging more, disguising cuts as ‘savings’ and pretending its okay because the books balance.

“We noticed children’s centres closing, and cuts to the guarantees to disabled people at the same time as councillor allowances were hiked and money was found for vanity projects.

“It’s not fair and its not fair to pull the wool over the eyes of Norfolk people when times are hard like this.”


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