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West Norfolk Council publishes draft budget for next four financial years





West Norfolk Council has published a draft budget which sets out spending plans for the next four years as it bids to deliver its new corporate strategy.

With the authority citing “challenging financial conditions”, the budget includes a number of measures to increase revenue income, such as a 10% rise in fees and charges. The proposed council tax increase is £5.

These changes will cover the financial years up to 2027/28.

West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish. Picture: West Norfolk Council
West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish. Picture: West Norfolk Council

The borough council’s leader, Cllr Terry Parish, said: “The reality is, the amount of money that the council needs to spend on services is more than the amount of money it gets in.

“Councils have been underfunded in relation to the job they have been asked to do for a number of years. This council has managed using financial reserves.

“However, due to a combination of high inflation and increased demand for our services, these reserves will not last as long as had been forecast.

“We are now looking at how we can increase our income and manage our spending to reach a balanced budget that delivers the priorities set out in our corporate strategy.

“We are planning to do a consultation exercise in the summer so local people will have a chance to influence those decisions in future.

“However, while these are challenging times, we also want to make sure that the people affected by increases in the cost of living are supported, which is why we have proposed a rise in relief through the council tax support scheme to 100%.

“We also propose widening the criteria to include more working people.”

West Norfolk Council, along with around 30 other councils nationally, also faces an “additional issue” caused by its need to fund the Internal Drainage Board (IDB), which comes out of its portion of council tax.

The council is a founding member of a lobbying group that is asking the Government to address this.

In the meantime, the council is planning its current and future financial position and considering how it can generate income while also reducing costs.

Proposed measures to increase income include bringing forward council tax on empty homes (2024/25) and doubling tax on second homes (2025/26) – which members also hope will encourage people to live locally.

These are some of the measures that form part of the council’s cost management/income generation plan, which is being developed to support closing the budget gap.

Where cost reductions could have implications for service provision, there will be a public consultation to ensure that any decisions are informed by the priorities of those living in the borough.

Capital projects, such as those at Lynn’s Guildhall theatre and the Multi-User Community Hub (MUCH), will be unaffected by cost management measures as these are funded by Government programmes and not from the council’s budget.

The council says it will also continue to deliver its programme to address the housing need in the area with ongoing delivery of new homes. These will be funded through a mixture of Government funds and self-funding loans.



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