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COVID pressures adding up but Council confident of balanced budget

26 June 2020

Despite COVID-19 cost pressures, the County Council is confident it will balance its budget this year, its finance chief says.

The news comes from a report to cabinet about the authority’s latest financial prospects.

Norfolk County Council has reported previously that it faces a £20m shortfall, between the Government’s COVID-19 grant and the actual costs and lost income caused by the pandemic. This has now reduced slightly to £18.1m.

A report by the executive director of finance and commercial services, Simon George, says that, taking COVID-19 and other pressures into account, a £15.8m overspend is projected by the end of this financial year. While the report does not underestimate the severity of this situation, it does believe this financial challenge can be met. The Council’s budget for this year is £430.4m.

Councillor Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said: “I have been upfront about the financial challenges that all county councils are facing and that’s why we are urging the Government to provide sustainable funding.

“Our track record of managing these pressures means I’m confident we will be able to balance the books this year – buying us time for the Government to make some key decisions.”

His report says: “While not underestimating the severity of the current crisis and its impact on the Council’s finances, the Executive Director of Finance and Commercial Services believes the current year’s forecast gap can be closed through mitigating actions and the possibility of additional central government support for the sector. However, there will be a continuing impact on the medium-term financial strategy and updates will be reported to Cabinet and to Scrutiny Committee over the next few months.”

The biggest pressures are in adult social services, with a projected overspend of £10m. Children’s services is predicting a balanced budget at this stage.

Cabinet will discuss the report at its virtual, online meeting at 10am on Monday, 6 July. The reports, plus a link from the agenda to the meeting, are available online.

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