Council tax bills for people in Norfolk will go up by 4.99pc, while £42m of cuts and savings will go ahead, after County Hall agreed its budget.

Conservative-controlled Norfolk County Council voted to increase its share of the council tax by the maximum possible without a referendum, adding almost £80 a year to a Band D property.

Norwich Evening News: Norfolk County Council leader Kay Mason BilligNorfolk County Council leader Kay Mason Billig (Image: Norfolk County Council)

The agreed £528m net budget - an increase on last year - will also see £42m of cuts and savings made at County Hall, with council leader Kay Mason Billig saying "difficult choices" had to be made.

While consultation on a number of those proposals continues and final decisions are due in the months ahead, council leaders have been clear that if they are not made, savings will need to be found elsewhere.

Contentious proposals include the council reducing the minimum income guarantee (MIG) for people with disabilities, to to save £1.2m each year.

The MIG is an amount of income disabled people aged 18 to 64 can keep for everyday expenses after the cost of council-arranged home care is taken into account.

Reducing it effectively means people will have to pay more for their care, with the council proposing to lower it from £187 a week to £171.25 a week.

Norwich Evening News: Recycling centres could shut on WednesdaysRecycling centres could shut on Wednesdays (Image: Archant)

Other controversial proposals are to shut recycling centres on Wednesdays and to introduce a booking system, to save £400,000 a year, while a thousand street lights could be switched off to save up to £200,000 a year and cut carbon.

Brian Watkins, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, tabled an amendment calling for the MIG reduction proposal to be scrapped.

Norwich Evening News: Brian WatkinsBrian Watkins (Image: Jason Bye)

Labour supported that, with councillor Brenda Jones saying: "Picking the pockets of the vulnerable is not the way".

Norwich Evening News: Brenda JonesBrenda Jones (Image: Labour Party)

But that call was defeated, with Andrew Jamieson, the council's cabinet member for finance, saying budgets for future years "remain daunting".

He said: "That is why we want sustainable savings, not one-off populist gestures."

Norwich Evening News: Andrew JamiesonAndrew Jamieson (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Labour proposed a shake-up to the care system in Norfolk, including that the council should help provide up to 1,000 homes to be rented to care workers to tackle a recruitment crisis.

That amendment was not passed.

Nor was a Green one, which included the introduction of a workplace car park levy in Norwich and a call for the council to buy land to be used for future new railway stations near Long Stratton and Hethsersett.

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp’s amendment, which called for the council to provide £100,000 to safeguard the future of the West Norfolk Carers charity, was also rejected.

So too, was one from independent councillor Maxine Webb, which included calls for extra money for short breaks for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

At the end of a meeting which lasted for four and a half hours, the budget was passed by 42 votes to 20, with two abstentions.

After the meeting, a spokeswoman for the Disability Network Norfolk Group hit out at plans to push ahead with the MIG reduction consultation.

She said: "We believe this to be an expensive and wholly unnecessary process based on a choice made by the cabinet and voted for by Conservative members.

"It will mean that disabled people will be around 10pc or 20pc worse off each week, depending on their age, forcing many more into debt or living miserable, locked down lives."

 

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO YOUR COUNCIL TAX?

Council tax bills are made up of portions which go to the county council, city, district or borough councils and the police and crime commissioner. Some areas also pay precepts to town and parish councils.

All authorities are setting their council tax in the days ahead, but Norfolk's share will increase by 4,99pc.

Norwich Evening News: Council tax payable to Norfolk County Council will go up by 4.99pcCouncil tax payable to Norfolk County Council will go up by 4.99pc (Image: Archant)

Of County Hall's share, 2.99pc goes into the general coffers and 2pc is ring-fenced for adult social care.

It will mean people in each band will pay this much to the county council in the coming year:

Band A: £1,114.74
Band B: £1,300.53
Band C: £1,486.32
Band D: £1,672.11
Band E: £2,043.69
Band F: £2,415.27
Band G: £2,786.85
Band H: £3,344.22