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Norfolk County Council calls for more savings to reduce expected tax hike

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Norfolk County Council departments are being urged to find even more savings in a bid to keep planned a tax increase down.

The authority faces a £39 million gap in its finances next year and is proposing to raise council tax by nearly three per cent.

But newly published documents have revealed officials are now being asked to find an extra £5 million in savings, on top of nearly £27 million already planned or identified.

Norfolk County Council
Norfolk County Council

The proposals, which will go before a cabinet meeting next Monday, November 8, also recommend "a full review of how the Council operates to deliver its future services and strategy".

A public consultation is then expected to follow before final budget plans are set early in the New Year.

County Hall leaders say they want to avoid raising the council's share of tax bills by more than three per cent.

Andrew Jamieson
Andrew Jamieson

A 1.99 per cent increase is being proposed for 2022-23, plus an additional one per cent levy for adult social care, which was deferred from this year.

Andrew Jamieson, the authority's cabinet member for finance, said today: “Although we face major financial pressures, our residents face rising living costs – and so we should explore every option to avoid raising Council Tax by more than absolutely necessary.”

The council says around £2.2 million of savings have already been identified for next year and around £24.4 million have been further proposed.

Of the latter figure, just over half, around £12.4 million, is proposed to be taken from adult social care, despite the authority warning that plans for money from a proposed increase in National Insurance contributions to go to the NHS first would only be a "partial fix".

Elsewhere, £4.315 million of savings are proposed from Children's Services, plus £4.175 million from finance and commercial services, nearly £3 million from community and environmental services, plus £300,000 from strategy and transformation.

Reports published ahead of the cabinet meeting warn the authority is facing "highly challenging circumstances" in setting its budget because of the lack of a firm financial settlement, which isn't expected until next month, plus pressures caused by an end to specific funding for Covid support.

It has also highlighted the continuing delay to decisions on future funding, including the retention of business rates.

The papers added: "With no mention of these being made at the Autumn Budget, it appears likely that they will be postponed again beyond 2022-23."

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