By March 2014, the council will have made budget cuts of £135m, and lost 1,600 full-time jobs in three years following the removal of government grants that they received. North Norfolk are using this as an opportunity not a problem.
The county are now beginning a review of where the council is spending money to find where the second round of cuts will come from.
Council Leader, Derrick Murphy, said:
We want to see essential services protected and, wherever possible, enhanced, whoever delivers them in the future. To do this, we need to re-balance our income so that in future we generate much more for ourselves.
We can’t rely on Government grants to close the gaps in future, and in any event, I don’t think we should.
That way [the council] will have more control of its own destiny and be far less reliant on Government in the future.
North Norfolk District Council are throwing this open to the public and will be asking taxpayers what services to spend money on and whether they would be prepared pay more council tax to fund services.
NNDC is expecting a £1.8m funding shortfall in the next three years, after also having cuts and losses to jobs and services for the previous two years.
However, they are hoping not to make any more cuts to jobs or services, despite losing more funding; NNDC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby has said that changes to the way that councils were being funded would not force cuts but create opportunities to generate additional income.
The possibilities include:
â— A “new homes bonus”, giving councils money for building houses. Mrs Oxtoby said NNDC was “ahead of the game” because its local development framework had already identified development areas
â— Increased council tax charges of 150pc for homeowners who left buildings unoccupied and run down. Councils would also get a bonus from the government for each house that was brought back into use.
NNDC leader Keith Johnson said that the public consultation could have a huge influence in the directions that the council will go in:
The days of the government giving out money are gone. Instead, we are going to be given the incentive to generate more of our own money. The more we grow, the more we will be rewarded.