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Council's plans for the future

03 October 2017

Norfolk County Council has outlined its ideas for how it will reshape itself to meet its challenges.

Council leader, Councillor Cliff Jordan, said: “We were elected on a manifesto to care for the county. That’s what I’m determined to do.

“I believe in making the best use we can of the money we have. We’re going to look at things like having children’s centres and libraries and other services that could fit together well, based in the same buildings.

“Think about it – that’s better for the public and will save money. But it’s early days and we’re gathering the evidence and talking to people first.

“I think we can save £125m – we’re on track this year and next and our future plans should deliver the rest.”

The council will stage to series of service reviews over the next two years, to meet its savings targets. Ideas include:

• Targeting services where people need them most, in fewer buildings
• Early help for families in crisis, to reduce the number of children going into care
• Support for adults to live independent lives, through reablement and assistive technology
• Smarter information and advice, to signpost people to support in their local community
• Using county council land to develop housing that is needed by communities
• Greater use of technology within the council and in frontline services
• More commercial ventures, to make profits that can be invested in services
Reports on the budget proposals will be considered by the council’s committees throughout October.

For political comment:

Cllr Cliff Jordan, Leader of the Conservative Group and Leader of the Council, on 01362 820422
Cllr Steve Morphew, Leader of the Labour Group, on 07889 430673
Cllr Dan Roper, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, on 07920 441 970

Background:

What’s the challenge?
As part of the public sector’s savings requirement, the council has saved £334 million since 2011 - and has to save a further £125 million by 2021. This is because the Government’s grant will end in 2020 and the costs of services such as social care are rising, with increasing numbers of older residents.

Continuing to shave money off services each year is no longer sustainable. The time has come to have a detailed look at how the council runs services and see if it can help people to take more control of their own lives. The council is aiming to provide better services with the money it has. Part of this will involve raising general Council Tax by 1.9 per cent and using the three per cent adult social care precept.

What sort of changes are being considered?

The council is developing a plan, which is looking at a range of ideas. These include getting more services into fewer buildings, using technology more and developing commercial ventures to raise money for services.

What will the council look like in four years’ time?

In four years’ time, the council will still play a massive role in Norfolk – including caring for the county’s most vulnerable people, repairing our roads and working with partners to attract jobs.

The council will be running a range of services from fewer buildings, known as council service points; it will be signposting people to support within their communities; and it will cut its costs - through greater use of technology to serve people, in their own homes, day and night; and from commercial ventures.

As the only county-wide organisation that is accountable to voters, the council will still have a big, positive impact on Norfolk’s life. It will continue to stand up for the county.

The council’s priorities:

The council is looking at seven areas:

• Local service strategy: The council wants to proactively target services in the places where more people need them most in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and our market towns. Joining-up different areas of the council’s work under one roof will enable the closure of little-used buildings and remodelled services.

• A new deal for families in crisis: The council wants to keep families together when life gets tough and reduce the number of children entering the care system. To achieve this it will focus on getting help to families early, so they are able to look after their children safely at home – the council has just approved a £12m-£15m investment to fundamentally change how it works.

• Promoting independence for vulnerable adults: The council wants to give people the skills and confidence to live independently and safely, in their own homes, for as long as possible. To do this it will focus on those most likely to need our formal services at some point to help them to stay independent for longer.

• Smarter information and advice: The council wants to make it easier for people to find trusted, reliable information to make decisions that improve their independence and wellbeing. It will direct and connect people to services in their local community.

• Towards a Norfolk housing strategy: The council cares about the large number of people who are not able to afford a home of their own. The council will, wherever practicable, accelerate the delivery of new housing, in all forms (including intermediate housing, such as care villages), throughout Norfolk by initiatives such as encouraging development on council land.

• Digital Norfolk: The council will drive the creation of a sustainable technology infrastructure for better broadband and mobile services. Norfolk will be a place where more local government services are available online and are used safely and effectively by people to live, work, learn and play.

• Commercialisation: The council will sweat its assets, to maximise return on investment to invest in frontline services. It will make the most of its under-utilised buildings and land, so they are sold or leased to generate rent income.

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