Committee warned Norfolk residents will have to pay more for adult care in future
Council tax increases for adult social care are likely to be even higher for Norfolk residents next year, a committee has heard.
Norfolk county councillors raised concerns about funding for adult social care during a scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday.
Alongside council tax, the government allows councils to set a ring-fenced precept of up to three per cent for adult social care – covering the cost of residential care homes and helping those with physical or mental disabilities.
In its draft budget, Norfolk County Council has set a two per cent precept increase for 2021/22.
Labour councillor, Chris Jones, queried whether the council was making a mistake in not raising it to the full amount.
Mr Jones said: “I think we would all accept that the £4m [extra raised by increasing the precept to three per cent] could be put to good use by adult social care this year.
“I think we’ve all argued, across the political parties, that adult social care is, in general, underfunded.
“Doesn’t it undermine that if we’re then offered the chance to raise to three per cent – aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot if we don’t take it?”
Hunstanton councillor Andrew Jamieson, the Conservative cabinet member for finance, said in consultation the public had supported a two per cent increase but fewer people supported three per cent.
He said: “I’m sure we could find ways of spending £4m this year but part of our job I think is to look over the medium term.”
Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, agreed, adding: “This isn’t a one-year solution where we throw a sticking plaster at it and then walk away and come back the following year.”
Mr Borrett accepted Mr Jones raised an important point but believed they were still making it clear more funding is needed through plans for further increases next year.
He said: “I think that this budget talks about our ambition to raise that extra one per cent next year means we can still have that conversation with the minister because it is part of our medium-term budget.”
Mr Jamieson added the council had a “robust budget” in place and they did not wish to make things more difficult for the people of Norfolk suffering through a pandemic.
The discussion took place ahead of a full council meeting on Monday when its budget for the forthcoming financial year is set to be finalised.
The authority is proposing to raise its share of council tax by just under four per cent in total.