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More big cuts proposed as Norfolk County Council looks to balance books

A wide range of swingeing cuts is being proposed to help Norfolk County Council reduce its budget gap from £45million to £15m.

New savings worth £26m have been identified and there's a proposal to raise £8.5m by increasing the adult social care precept.

And the council is warning that more cuts may be required later this year if no additional Government funding is forthcoming.

Norfolk County Council's headquarters, where calls for DIY waste recycling charges to be scrapped are set to be debated next week (3090376)
Norfolk County Council's headquarters, where calls for DIY waste recycling charges to be scrapped are set to be debated next week (3090376)

A report to next Monday's cabinet meeting suggests increasing the council's portion of the council tax by 1.99 per cent and the adult social care precept by a further two per cent (total increase of 3.99 per cent).

Cllr Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, called it the toughest budget the council has faced so far.

He said: "The triple whammy of rising budget pressures, uncertainty over Government funding and the costs of tackling Covid-19 have created a unique challenge.

Norfolk County Council (4459040)
Norfolk County Council (4459040)

“We’ve covered some £30m of our £45.4m gap and tried, wherever possible, to cut running costs and reduce the impact on frontline services.

"The aim of these proposals is to protect services that support the most vulnerable whilst ensuring that the council becomes more financially resilient and sustainable for the future.

“But without additional Government support and certainty over our biggest and costliest service – adult social care – we face further tough decisions later this year.

Norfolk County Council (4212668)
Norfolk County Council (4212668)

"We are continuing to speak with the MHCLG, lobbying with key groups like LGA and County Councils Network and working alongside our MPs for a fair and sustainable settlement for local government.”

The report says the Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on this year's savings as part of the council's efforts to cut £436m from its spending between 2011/12 and 2020/21.

Also set out in the financial monitoring report, there remains a forecast shortfall between Covid-related costs and Government funding received to date by the council of £8.9m.

Norfolk County Council (4459040)
Norfolk County Council (4459040)

This forms part of the current forecast overspend position of £5.3m forecast for year end.

Proposed new 2021-22 savings, per department, stand at:

  • Adult social services: £18m (out of a 2020-21 net budget of £25m)
  • Children’s services: £5 million (£196 million)
  • Community and environmental services:£7 million (£163m)
  • Strategy and governance: £1m (£9m)
  • Finance and commercial services: £2m (£31m)
  • Finance general: £3m (-£225m).

One of the biggest pressures facing the budget is the impact of the pandemic including the risk of potential additional cost pressures, lost income and the effect on local sources of income such as council tax and business rates.

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