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People in Norfolk set to pay more council tax as County Hall makes £38m savings

PUBLISHED: 13:02 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:20 06 January 2020

Norfolk County Council's share of the council tax could be about to increase. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norfolk County Council's share of the council tax could be about to increase. Picture: Denise Bradley

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People will pay about £50 a year extra council tax to Norfolk County Council if the authority's budget is agreed next month - while more than £38m of savings are needed to balance the books.

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.

Council bosses have said they are pumping millions of pounds of extra cash into adult social services and children's services.

But, in the face of rising demands and costs, they say they are "running to stand still" and need the government to come up with fairer funding for councils.

And a further £35m of savings is earmarked for the following year - to help save £89m by 2024.

The council says it is putting an extra £34.6m into adult social care, although that department's budget also includes £23m of savings, mainly through trying to keep people out of residential care and in their own homes.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSteve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Next year's budget would put £23.3m more into children's services, including £11m for budget pressures such as paying for looked after children.

The extra money for children's services also includes £4.5m for home to school transport.

But there are also £7.3m of savings, mainly through changes to how services are delivered.

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Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said "prudent measures" were proposed.

He said: "That buys us time to encourage the new government to resolve the long-term pressures facing us and other county councils.

"Although we're putting significant extra investment into adult social care and children's services, we're effectively running to stand still, in the face of rising demand and costs."

The budget is based on a 3.99pc rise in County Hall's share of the council tax, of which 2pc is ring-fenced for adult social care.

That would increase a Band D property bill from £1,362.24 to £1,416.51.

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said: "There are elections next year and, I may be cynical, but it looks like they're just shunting the savings into the following year after that.

"This isn't about party politics, its about political integrity. It's a lousy budget, lacking in compassion and without integrity."

And Ed Maxfield, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: "Norfolk residents are faced with paying the price for the council's failure to get a grip of its finances. Tax increases and more spending cuts are coming but we are told there will still be a £90m budget gap by 2024.

"The Conservatives run the council and the government and this has happened on their watch. They have to come up with realistic solutions."

The council's cabinet will consider the budget proposals when it meets at 10am on Monday, January 13, with the full council taking the final decision on February 17.

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