Recruitment freeze at council

A district council has begun a recruitment freeze as officials prepare for the long term impact of a recession.

A district council has begun a recruitment freeze as officials prepare for the long term impact of a recession.

The leaders of South Norfolk Council said they were preparing for a tough new financial year as the authority's income continued to be squeezed by the credit crunch.

Officials have already taken the decision to avoid filling non service delivery and management team vacancies and tax payers are being warned that they will not be receiving another council tax freeze in April.

John Fuller, leader of the Conservative controlled council, said the local authority 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 discussed the impact of a recession at a meeting on Monday in which councillors will be told to prepare for the 'long haul' and efficiency savings were an 'absolute necessity.'

Mr Fuller said: 'Councils are just like any other business and in some cases we can be hit more acutely. We have to take stock and look at reducing our cost base and reduce public expenditure and at the same time minimise the impact on taxpayers.'

'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, added that the council was not looking at making 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, antisocial behaviour and minor crimes like shoplifting may increase in South Norfolk as a result of a recession.

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