Norfolk County Council Budget 2023

by Steff on 21 February, 2023

Earlier this morning the leader complained about being forced to raise council tax – a problem I sympathise with

But it is his party that is in government! 

What is the point of the Conservatives if they can’t lead the country in a joined-up way?

I am a big advocate for Norfolk, and a particularly strong fan of the work of the teams I’ve had the most involvement with.

But highlighting the good things the council has done has little to do with the contents of this budget.

That Norfolk County Council is “grossly underfunded” – his words – is hardly a surprise.

His administration has had more than four years to get ready for this. 

We knew, going into 2017, that the government was going to reduce the core money it pays to councils down to zero by this year.  That’s around £100m this year, which this administration has had four years to get to grips with. 

All organisations have had to radically transform adapt and to the modern world.  The way this is achieved in successful organisations is through empowerment.  Giving teams, and leaders, the long-term view of where things are going, and allowing them to shape their resources and operations accordingly.

The empowering ‘zero base budgeting’ approach is one of the reasons Liberal Democrat controlled North Norfolk District Council has maintained services, building new facilities against a backdrop of councils cutting them, and even freezing council tax in the harshest year of lockdown – the only council in Norfolk to do so.

This council’s major departments, however, have faced death by 1000 cuts. 

Each year, they’ve been set crushing budget reduction targets, and made to trim, not reform, every year in order to meet them.

The irony is, this is precisely why we’re facing such additional pressure on adult and children’s services: the short-termism of these annual attempts to cut the cloth have hit preventative measures hardest.

They’ve meant more people have been pushed into poverty, more children placed at risk, and more elderly people unable to live independently.  And now, four years later, the county council is still legally required to fund statutory levels of care, and the demand for this statutory provision are going up and up.

To the people of Norfolk: this is why your council tax is going up.  The Tories are no longer the party of financial probity.  It’s not the fault of the officers, or any individual.  It’s a shocking, collective inability of the conservative party of 2023 to have a vision, a plan for our county, and our country, and a set of principles to live by.  As a result I cannot support this budget.

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