Building on the county’s reputation as the most enterprising place in Britain, maintaining services for the most vulnerable and freezing the amount of money residents pay in council tax are the driving forces behind Northamptonshire County Council’s draft budget published today (Tues 11)
Included in today’s proposals, which sets a net revenue budget of £440.616 million and a gross expenditure budget of £1.08 billion, are measures which set out the council’s response to continued reductions in government funding and growing demand for services especially for older people and children in care.
The council has already made more than £100 million of savings over the past three years and the proposals published today outline how it will continue to meet the challenge of its financial pressures.
Leader for the council, Jim Harker, said: “Our approach to long term planning and investing to save has allowed us not only to deliver a balanced budget in a year when the country grappled with a double-dip recession but to continue to support economic growth in the county.
“This year, Northamptonshire was named by the government as the most enterprising place in Britain and we also won an award for encouraging export. As we stand on the cusp of a more promising national picture with the economy growing by one percent in the third quarter of this year, our draft budget reaffirms our commitment to creating the right conditions for economic growth here in Northamptonshire.”
Councillor Bill Parker, cabinet member for finance, said: “This time last year, we gave a commitment to pressing ahead with our efforts to save more money through improving our processes, stamping out inefficiencies, reorganising our staff and bringing in more income.
“This commitment is most evident in the success of LGSS, the shared services venture founded by ourselves and Cambridgeshire county council, which reduces the costs of services through the consolidation of resources and process redesign. LGSS is delivering millions of pounds of savings and is cutting our back office costs.
“As well as sharing key services with other councils and agencies, we’ve introduced new and innovative ways of working. These include our new commissioning arrangements for highways services and the creation of Olympus Care Services, a company wholly owned by us delivering adult social care services. We will continue to redesign our services to find pioneering ways of achieve savings while protecting the most vulnerable people in the county.”
The Local Government Finance Settlement (LGFS), which sets out how much the government will fund councils next year, is expected in mid-December. This will be factored into the calculations for the final budget which will be presented to a meeting of Full Council on 21 February 2013.
The draft budget also proposes a freeze in council tax for the third consecutive year. This means the band D rate for 2013/14 would remain at £1,028.11
The proposals, which are now subject to an eight week consultation, can be viewed on the council’s website after the cabinet meeting.