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Unpalatable options loom in Norfolk county budget

Difficult choices will be needed to balance Norfolk County Council’s next budget, in the face of rising costs and uncertainty over future funding.

“There will be unpalatable options,” warns a report from County Hall.

That’s the message from the council which predicts the need to save more than £39 million next year - or as much as £47.8 million, if council tax is frozen.

Norfolk County Council (43976630)
Norfolk County Council (43976630)

A new report to be examined by cabinet members next Monday, July 5, has set out the council’s current financial prospects, before proposals are developed and put out to public consultation in October.

Andrew Jamieson, the authority’s cabinet member or finance, said: “We’re facing a menu of unpalatable options, unless the Government grasps the nettle and sorts out council funding – especially for adult social care.

“I’m proud of the work this council does every day, to support the people of Norfolk and particularly during this challenging, pandemic year.

“But we can only stretch the elastic so far. Without fair, sustained funding, we’re going to have to make painful choices over savings, higher council tax, or both.”

Mr Jamieson, who represents the North Coast division, said it was too early to speculate on detailed proposals but confirmed the cabinet was going to look at all areas of spending.

In the report, the council predicts it will have to save £109 million over the next four years, to 2025/26-with £39.037 million to save next year

The Government assumes councils will raise council tax within the referendum limit which is set annually – currently expected to be a 1.99 per cent rise in general council tax.

The council’s planning includes a one per cent increase in the adult social care precept, deferred from 2021-22.

If the county council chose not to increase council tax next year, it would have to find a further £8.7 million of savings next year, rising to £37.2 million extra over five years.

The proposed savings for next year, listed per department, are: Adult Social Services: £17.700m; Children’s Services: £8.700m; Community and Environmental Services: £8.700m; Finance and Commercial Services: £1.800m; Finance General£1.300m; Governance: £0.400m; Strategy and Transformation: £0.500m. The total savings target: £39.100m.

Cabinet will consider the report when it meets at 10am on Monday, July 5.

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