Council puts new recruitment on hold
A DISTRICT council has frozen recruitment as officials prepare for the long-term impact of a recession.Leaders of South Norfolk Council said they were preparing for a tough new financial year with income continuing to be squeezed by the credit crunch.
SOUTH NORFOLK District Council has frozen recruitment as officials prepare for the long-term impact of a recession.
Leaders said they were preparing for a tough new financial year with income continuing to be squeezed by the credit crunch.
Officials have already taken the decision to avoid filling non-service delivery and management team vacancies, and taxpayers are being warned they will not get another council tax freeze in April.
John Fuller, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said it was bracing itself for a difficult year after many of its revenue streams were reduced.
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South Norfolk Council has already seen a more than 20pc drop in money from planning applications and has received a 24pc increase in council tax benefit and housing benefit claimants.
Mr Fuller said the authority was also bracing itself for an almost �1m hole in the 2009-10 budget as a result of the drop in interest rates on its investments.
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Members of the district council's cabinet are set to discuss the impact of recession at a meeting today in which councillors will be told to prepare for the "long haul" and efficiency savings are an "absolute necessity".
Mr Fuller said: "Councils are just like any other business and in some cases we can be hit more acutely.
"It is going to be really tough for councils as well as businesses and we will have to share the pain.
"Last year we froze council tax and if we limit it to a 3pc rise, it will be a great result."
Sandra Dinneen, chief executive, said the council was not looking at redundancies at this stage, but the council's staffing levels would reduce through "natural wastage" by not externally advertising vacant positions and not renewing agency and temporary staff contracts.
A report to councillors also warns that fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour and minor crimes like shoplifting may increase in South Norfolk as a result of a recession.