Norfolk councils budgets get tighter

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Council budgets are tightening after seeing a massive drop in their Government funding.

Norfolk County Council has seen a 14 per cent reduction in its funding when the latest settlement of £278 million was announced last week. School transport budgets have taken a hit in this settlement.

While West Norfolk has received £8,897,025, which is a 16.5 per cent reduction on last year.

But things are slightly better at the borough which has more than £20,000 extra as its budget for next year is £8,876,070.

Leader Nick Daubney says the council is able to maintain its level of service.

He said: “I think the main thing is that our budget exercises which we did earlier this year have turned out to be amazingly accurate. We predicted a cut of between 16 per cent to 17 per cent and we have ended up at 16. 5 per cent.

“We are a few thousand pounds better off than we thought we would be.

“That means our plans to freeze council tax and car park charges will remain in place. Our efficiency programme is on track and we will be able to deliver a sustainable budget next year.”

Last year, the council received £10,541,390 from the Government.

This year’s financial settlement includes £3,913,080 in the revenue support grant, £4,983,945 in business rate baseline funds. The council has also received £2,918,980 in the new homes bonus grant.

UKIP councillor Paul Foster said of official figures showing the council’s spending power: “West Norfolk comes in at number thirty-eight out of three hundred and twenty-six. The council is being hit by a 5.6 per cent cut in spending power. Only Norwich and Great Yarmouth are being hit harder.”

The county council’s settlement is £278 million while last year it received £320.1 million.

Leader George Nobbs said: “Despite having made £69 million of savings over the last year in order to balance our budget because of cuts imposed by this Government, this settlement takes even more money from the county council.

“The severe reductions in funding to the council from the Government continues next year; once again, with us getting £42 million less in our main grant.

“Even this Government cannot fail to know that Norfolk is a very large rural county which has suffered from under-funded children’s services under the council’s previous administration.

“Yet Norfolk has been given the eighth worst financial settlement for school transport in the country.

“We have to cover this cost from elsewhere.

“Our discretionary funding is being cut to the bone.

This council will continue to ensure that whatever funding we are provided with protects the most vulnerable in society and our ‘life changing’ services will be protected. But that means that some things have to give elsewhere, but that is the sad reality of the position we are being placed in, which is unprecedented.”