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Chancellor’s mini-budget welcomed, but warning councils need extra help

PUBLISHED: 15:18 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:23 08 July 2020

County Hall in Norwich. Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Norfolk County Council/Neil Perry/Denise Bradley

County Hall in Norwich. Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor (left) and opposition Labour leader Steve Morphew (right). Picture: Norfolk County Council/Neil Perry/Denise Bradley

Norfolk County Council/Neil Perry/Denise Bradley

The leader of Norfolk County Council has welcomed the chancellor’s mini-budget, but said the funding crisis local authorities are facing must be tackled when he presents his autumn budget.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil PerryAndrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

County Hall is facing a £118m funding gap up to 2024 and the money the government to mitigate for the impact of COVID-19 on the council is not enough to cover the cost.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s mini-budget announced investment in skills, creating jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities for young people.

Conservative council leader Andrew Proctor said: “I welcome the chancellor’s £30bn plan to help our economy recover from the pandemic.

“I especially welcome the support for employers to employ and train young people, enable furloughed people to return to work and kickstart our tourism and hospitality sector.”

The council recently announced a £7.7m pot to help the county recover from coronavirus, along with a two-stage Norfolk and Suffolk Recovery Plan created with partners, including the New Anglia LEP.

Mr Proctor said: “Norfolk already has its own plans in place to get our economy moving again. We have committed funds to it to ensure we can work with all businesses and partners and leverage the support of funding through the Local Enterprise Partnership.

“I’m encouraged that the chancellor accepts that further measures will be necessary.”
But, with the mini-budget light on specific support for local government finances, Mr Proctor said: “It’s essential that increased financial support for local government, including adult social care, features in his autumn budget and we will continue to fight Norfolk’s corner for this.”

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, said: “On the face of it the package looks more ambitious and positive than anything that has emerged form Norfolk, so I hope this will push the Local Enterprise Partnership and county council back to the drawing board for a better local recovery plan.

“However, with all budgets the devil is usually in the detail that emerges over the following days so I’m reserving judgement until we get the full picture. Too often we’ve had promises snatched away once the headlines have been printed.”


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