Norfolk County Council is considering whether to raise Council Tax by a further 1%, to 5.99% in April 2018, to raise an extra £4 million for services.
We have been very clear about the budget pressures the County is facing and the fact is that, so far, the Government has not provided any extra funding.
Government are reducing the reliance on funding from central government through our Rate Support Grant (which comes from our general taxation) and gradually introducing locally raised funding for local services. This will eventually include all Business rates which we raise locally but which have gone to central government in the past. We need very successful businesses in order to pay for local services and will be more dependent on Council Tax to support all local services, such as refuse collection, libraries, lighting, social amenities like parks and open spaces. Government will continue to fund all major needs like hospitals, schools, major infrastructure projects etc.
The chief finance officer at County Hall is advising us to accept this offer, which would add £4 million to our budget, every year – easing pressure on our services.
We need to give this serious consideration as we’ve got rising costs and rising demand for services and have had to budget for a 2% pay rise for staff. No-one likes Council Tax increases but I also know many people want to ease the strain on our services.
The council had been considering a 4.9% rise – 1.9% for general services and 3% for adult social care. However the Government announced last month that councils could levy a further 1% for general services.
A 5.99% rise would increase the county council’s share of band D bills by £74.74 per year, to £1,322.68. The Council’s committees will consider the budget proposals throughout January, starting with the adult social care committee on January 15th. The full Council will take a final decision on February 12th.
Raising Council Tax by the additional 1% would add £4 million per year to the Council’s base budget every year, reducing the budget gap by £12 million over the next three years.
- The Government assumes that councils will take the maximum Council Tax increase available and this is built into the Government’s funding models. Any decision to take an increase of less than 2.99% would leave the County Council with lower funding than the Government expects it to have.
- A general Council Tax increase of 2.99% means it will be in line with inflation. Any increase of less than this represents a real-terms cut to income.
- Subject to Councillors’ decisions, budget planning for 2019-20 would then be based on a general Council Tax increase of 2.99% in 2019-20, as the council will not have the option to raise the adult social care precept in that year.
- The County Council’s current share of band D bills is £1,247.94, which includes an adult social care precept of £548.62. A rise of 5.99%, including the additional 1%, would represent an increase of £74.74.
SUBSIDISED BUS SERVICES:
Many buses are running half full. Suggestions regarding improving Border hopper or community vehicles which operate when more people will use them. Don’t stop subsidies but rationalise where it goes by supporting those providing best service for the majority. We have to think smarter and more cost effective without reducing the overall effectiveness of the service.
Work is starting next week on a roundabout which will replace the A146 Hales Junction which currently has the worst accident record for a main road in Norfolk.
It’s inevitable that there will be some disruption during the three months that the build will take but we’ll be working to keep that to a minimum and are grateful for everyone’s patience while work is underway.
The £1.63m roundabout is being paid for by money Norfolk County Council received from the Government’s new National Productivity Investment fund.
After a recent evaluation of children’s services we are back on track with a good Ofsted report. Numbers of looked after children are still high but early prevention is working well and team morale is high.
ADULT SOCIAL SERVICES:
Reablement increased and emergency admissions for elderly people being reduced with a special unit managed by GPs dealing with patients over 65 at NNUH. Better triaging so minor issues such as urine infections dealt with immediately.