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Norfolk needs more cash to stem cuts to vital services, cross-party group tells minister

PUBLISHED: 14:10 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:10 16 May 2019

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

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The scale of the need for extra money, to stop crucial services in Norfolk being stripped further back, has been "articulated very clearly" to the government by a cross-party group of MPs.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb. Photo:  PA / Steve ParsonsNorth Norfolk MP Norman Lamb. Photo: PA / Steve Parsons

Five of the county's MPs - Conservatives Henry Bellingham, RIchard Bacon and George Freeman, Labour's Clive Lewis and Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, joined Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor at Westminster to meet local government minister Rishi Sunak.

The money County Hall gets from the government - to pay for key services such as children's services, adult social care and special education needs education - has been slashed by £204m between 2010 and 2019.

And its revenue support grant - money the government gives the council to provide services - will plummet from £39m to zero in 2020/21, with the council increasingly left to rely on one-off funding and a business rates pilot.

The council, which has made £364m of savings since 2010, needs to make nearly £71m of savings over the next two years, amid rising demand for services.

It is waiting to find out if the government's fairer funding review benefits the county and for the long-delayed Green Paper on social care to be published.

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But County Hall's Conservative leader Mr Proctor wrote to MPs asking for help to put pressure on the government and North Norfolk MP co-ordinated a letter requesting a meeting with the chancellor or treasury minister.

That led to Tuesday's meeting with local government minister Mr Sunak.

Mr Proctor said the case had been made to secure more certainty over funding. he said: "All in all, it was a very positive meeting. The MPs did their job as much as me in advocating for Norfolk and he did say he would be fighting local government's corner."

Mr Lamb said: "We all made our points about how serious this is.

"The county council provides some really important services for vulnerable people, whether for vulnerable children, frail, older people or disabled people.

"We are seeing some of those services stripped back, including support for disabled people, while schools are under immense pressure, particularly, but not exclusively, when it comes to special needs.

"We articulated very clearly the scale of the need in Norfolk."

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