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People in Norfolk face council tax increase as County Hall looks to plug cash gap

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

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The multi-million pound budget gap which Norfolk County Council is facing has been cut more than half, council leaders have announced.

But it will mean people will have to pay more in council tax to plug the gap, while the council will be selling off £10m of buildings and properties each year to try to balance the books.

The council was facing a forecast funding gap of £94.6m for the period 2019 to 2022, but council leader Andrew Proctor said measures taken since would cut the gap to £45.3m, although the council is still looking to make £78.5m of savings for the next four years.

The council says the gap has been cut by measures including:

• A predicted £18.564m of extra Council Tax income, due to housing and population growth

• Plans to raise £10m of capital receipts, to reduce debt repayments

• A proposed 1.99pc council tax increase in 2021-22, on top of a 2.99pc increase next year and a 1.99pc increase the following year.

Conservative leader Mr Proctor said: “Like all county councils, we’re facing continual financial pressure but we are moving forward with plans to tackle it. We are taking action and we are not complacent with our approach.

“I’m determined the county council will maintain that focus – every saving that isn’t delivered on time adds further pressure.”

But Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group, said it was a case of “smoke and mirrors”.

He said: “All of these numbers are based on speculation and assumption. People will be asked to pay more for less and at the end of it there’s still a funding gap of £50m and they’ve no idea how to plug it.”

The issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Conservative-run council’s policy and resources committee on Monday, September 24.

At the same meeting, councillors will hear how £5.2m of this year’s planned £29.9m savings may not be made, or may not be made on time.

Each of the council’s committees will next month be asked to start considering how to make the necessary savings.

Meanwhile, the council has invited councillors and officers from other authorities to conduct a peer review - where they will visit and assess performance at County Hall.

Mr Proctor described it as being “like a council MOT”.

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