Yesterday I was the only Norfolk MP present at the County Council Network’s (CCN) national briefing in Parliament on the inadequacy of this year’s Local Government Finance Settlement.
The CCN plea for extra funding comes in the wake of a recent letter from the Tory leader of Norfolk County Council to his own Conservative government making it clear that Social Care in in the county faces a shortfall of £83 million between 2017/18 and 2020/21. The letter demands that the government “properly fund social care with genuinely new government money.”
In response to a a 43% reduction in core government grants over the next two years, the Network is alarmed that the Settlement does not contain any new resource for counties. CCN analysis shows that the new freedom to raise an extra 1% in council tax can compensate for only a fraction of this reduction in core funding and that extra funds are desperately needed to safeguard vital frontline services.
In addition, CCN calculates that county councils’ Children’s Services and Social Care responsibilities will be in a £1.3bn funding black hole by 2021.
It is disgraceful that not a single Norfolk Conservative MP was present yesterday to defend our county’s struggling services - despite their own Tory County council pleading for more funding for the second year in a row.
And this is a Tory cuts crisis with some of its roots in our very own county. Tory South West Norfolk MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss is one of the authors of this dreadful round of cuts to services to children, care and education but she didn’t have the decency to turn up either.
As ever these Tory cuts are not only cruel but are also counterproductive, Norfolk Tories want to slash £5 million or 50% from our children's centre budgets even though evidence shows that for each £1 spent £13 is is saved in public spending further down the line.
This episode says everything you need to know about the Tories’ self-serving priorities. They say they can’t find the £2.5bn needed by 2021 for county children’s services, care for older people and schools. But they can shake the ‘magic money tree’ to keep Theresa May in her job with a huge handout to the DUP.
And here in Norfolk Tory County councillors are happy to line their pockets by voting themselves a huge increase in their own expenses while sending to the wall our county’s most disadvantaged children, parents, disabled people and older people.