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Report predicts 38 per cent cut in value of West Norfolk goods and services because of coronavirus

The value of all goods and services produced in West Norfolk could fall by almost 40 per cent because of the coronavirus crisis, according to a new report.

The warning comes as Norfolk County Council officials forecast a multi-million pound budget shortfall due to the costs of tackling the pandemic, despite additional government funding.

The fears have been set out in two reports, which will be considered at a virtual meeting of the authority's ruling cabinet on Monday week, May 11.

Norfolk County Council headquarters (3027764)
Norfolk County Council headquarters (3027764)

Officials have highlighted research by the Centre for Progressive Policy, which suggests that the borough's gross value added level, which measures the value of goods and services produced, will fall by 38 per cent during the second quarter of this year.

The forecast follows an earlier prediction by the Office for Budget Responsibility that national GDP will shrink by 35 per cent over the same period.

And the neighbouring districts of North Norfolk and Breckland could fare even worse, with predicted GVA falls of 39 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

Andrew Proctor (7819720)
Andrew Proctor (7819720)

But council leader Andrew Proctor says plans are already being drawn up to help the county recover and paid tribute to the community response to the pandemic.

He said: “The response to Covid 19 in Norfolk has been a huge community and partnership effort spearheaded by local government.

“That has been illustrated so well by the dedication and commitment shown by colleagues across Norfolk County Council, working with all its partners, showing how the council is making a difference in these extraordinary and challenging times to everyone in Norfolk.

"Although the Government is offering support to a range of sectors, there will still be a big impact on our economy. The council and all partners in Norfolk are working with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to devise the best strategy to recover from this economic shock.”

The council has been given around £43.6 million of additional central government funding so far, out of a £1.6 billion package announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, last month.

But officials say they expect that additional costs and "income pressures" placed on the authority by the pandemic will be around £19 million more than that.

Andrew Jamieson, the authority's cabinet member for finance, said: “We are doing what it takes to support the public during this pandemic – but there is no doubt we will take a financial hit, due to lost savings, additional costs to services and loss of income.

“We were already urging the Government to provide sustainable future funding for councils. This is more important than ever, due to the impact of the pandemic and how that will change the shape of services.”

The virtual meeting will take place on Monday, May 11 at 10am and can be viewed via the council's YouTube channel.

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