by DAN GRIMMER
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
People living in Norwich are to be consulted over a 2.5pc rise in the council tax next year and whether the city council should revolt over controversial benefit changes.
Norwich City Council will need to plug a £1.6m gap in its budget in 2013/14 and plans to ask the public for ideas as to how to do that.
While the council says changing ways of working would save that money, it is proposing that, after two years of council tax being frozen, the City Hall share of the council tax should go up by 2.5pc.
At a meeting of the city council cabinet tonight (Tuesday), Alan Waters, deputy leader, said that would mean someone living in a Band B property in Norwich would have to pay about 8p more a week.
He said that would raise about £250,000 which could be used to protect key services or pay for new schemes and projects.
But another problem the council is facing is that, because of a government drive to slash costs, it is being asked to devise its own council tax benefit scheme.
The government currently covers 100pc of each local authority’s costs for those benefits, but from next year they will be given 10pc less to run their own schemes, leaving the council with a further shortfall of £1.5m.
A cross-party working group at City Hall has considered the issue, but councillors are reluctant to save money by cutting support to people on low or no incomes.
Last night, they recommended that they keep the existing scheme, but cover the cost of it by reducing council tax exemptions and discounts for second homes and empty properties, while using money collected through council tax to subsidise the scheme.
That would mean just over £630,000 in money raised through council tax, which is currently passed to Norfolk County Council, would instead be used to subsidise the scheme, along with just under £110,000 the police authority would normally get.
Consultation over the proposals will be launched tomorrow (Thursday), to run until December 6. Councillors will
them make final decisions next year.