“Rainy day” money for South Norfolk tax freeze

Residents in south Norfolk are set to experience another tax freeze, despite council plans to save more than �3m over the next three years.

Cabinet members will discuss South Norfolk Council's budget next week, which will see the council dipping into its 'rainy day' reserves and making savings of almost �550,000 in 2011/12 to keep the authority's precept increase at zero.

If approved by leaders on Monday and at a full council meeting on February 21, householders will see a third council tax freeze in four years.

The local authority, which will be holding elections later this year, is currently looking to share services with neighbouring councils and has lined up Great Yarmouth Borough Council for a potential marriage to reduce costs.

It comes after South Norfolk's overall government grant was slashed from �8.4m to �6.9m for 2011/12 and is braced for similar funding cuts in the next three years.

In a report to councillors, Debbie Lorimer, financial services manager, said the authority aimed to balance its books for the forthcoming financial year by using �433,000 from its general fund reserve and would receive an extra �150,000 council tax freeze bonus from the government.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said that the council was not planning any increase in car parking or leisure centre charges.

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'As residents have tightened their belts so have we. We remain financially strong and are able to use the increase in reserves we made in the good years to support us now that the going is tough.'

'We saw the need to make substantial savings for the coming year and found over half a million pounds. We did all this while increasing our overall reserves - the rainy day money which will help us manage future financial pressures,' he said.

South Norfolk's precept for an average band D property will remain at �130.68, if approved. However, the average parish precept is set to rise by 0.7pc in 2011/12.