Savings worth £10m needed to balance council books

The leader of Norwich City Council says the government must make more money available or local counc

Norwich City Council needs to make £10m of savings over four years - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

The city council needs to find £10m in savings to balance the books, as a report warns building projects could be hampered if a land sale fails. 

A report by Norwich City Council setting out its medium-term financial strategy - a five-year look ahead at the council's budget - is anticipating a considerable gap, with £10.6m of savings expected to be needed over the next four years. 

Paul Kendrick, cabinet member for corporate resource, said cuts are possible, but where they come from is still up for determination.

"It will be a difficult few years, not just in Norwich, but across the local government sector," he said.

"We will have to look at what services we can provide."

Paul Kendrick, Norwich city councillor. Pic: Archant Library.

Paul Kendrick, Norwich city councillor. Pic: Archant Library. - Credit: Archant

Mr Kendrick said this was partly down to significant cuts to the revenue support grant - money from central government to fund services - since the last Labour government in 2010.

The cabinet member stressed the strategy was still at an early stage and the council was waiting to see what money, and over what period, they would get from central government.

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A report to the council cabinet ahead of a meeting on Wednesday outlined a series of issues facing the council and residents.

In particular, the council has lost income in areas such as car parking, rental income, licensing income and fees and charges from cultural and leisure activities due to the pandemic.

A council spokesperson said: "While keeping up with the changing demands of the pandemic, and providing key services, the council has worked hard to review spending commitments and identify savings.

"Lower borrowing costs account for the most significant proportion of savings, however cancelling key events and finding savings on recruitment, training, travel and supplies have been made, which together amounted to a reduction in spend of more than £3m last year."

The report also highlighted the need to sell the Norwich airport industrial estate, jointly owned by Norfolk County Council and the city council, to fund capital projects such as building social housing.

The empty units at Norwich Airport Industrial Estate. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

The empty units at Norwich Airport Industrial Estate. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

Mr Kendrick said he was hopeful that the Norwich airport industrial estate would be sold.

"If it doesn't [sell] we would have to look again at the budget but the market at the moment is quite strong," he said.

"It's not just good for the council but it's good for Norwich. An investor would be able to modernise it, which we don't have the funds to do."