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Councillors to scrutinise budget

Councillors are to scrutinise the county council's latest budget proposals, which include £52.2 million of savings.

The council's scrutiny committee will consider the latest proposals that were recommended by the cabinet last month.

Chair of scrutiny, Councillor Steve Morphew, said: "Even with the welcome last minute extra £9.5m Government funding, the council is in a difficult financial position. The Government has coupled the extra money with the requirement for a productivity plan and a wish I would share to reduce spending on expensive consultants.

"Undoubtedly, there isn't enough money coming from Government but the role of the Scrutiny Committee is to make sure the budget we have is being spent in the most effective way, by challenging the plans and assumptions behind the raw numbers.

"When you're trying to make the books balance you can lose sight of the fact that every service decision can affect the quality of somebody's life."

The key headlines are:

  • £116 million of investment to meet demand and cost pressures - including £34.7 million for inflation, £37.6 million for legislative requirements and £39.7 million for demand and demographic issues
  • £52.2 million of new savings, including £12.1 million from transforming how the council operates
  • New savings proposals totalling £1.4 million may require further consultation and will then be brought back to cabinet for decisions
  • A proposed 4.99 per cent increase in the county council's share of Council Tax, in line with the Government's capping level (2.99 per cent for general Council Tax and 2 per cent for adult social care). This would increase the council's share of band D bills to £1,672.11. A 4.99 per cent rise would generate £24.9 million

A small number of the budget proposals have been identified as potentially requiring public consultation, as they may relate to a policy or service change. These include:

  • Charging an admin fee for brokering on behalf of people who self-fund their adult social care
  • Review of the adult social care non-residential charging policy - including the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG)
  • Recommissioning of social isolation and loneliness contracts
  • Norfolk Record Office - pre-booking of visits and new paid services to increase income generation
  • Switching off 2% of streetlights
  • Recycling centres: Reduction of opening hours at some recycling centres to deliver a more consistent approach, in line with neighbouring authorities

If, following public consultation, any of the proposals are not implemented, departments will need to make alternative savings.

The scrutiny committee meets at 10am on Wednesday, 14 February. You can read the report and watch the meeting, live or afterwards.

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