Plans for a complete overhaul of public services and keeping county council tax bills the lowest in the country lie at the heart of the wide-ranging draft budget proposals published today by Northamptonshire County Council.
More about the proposals
Faced with the mammoth task of reducing its budget by £128m over the next five years – on top of the £177m already delivered – the council’s proposals include a historic shift in the way social care and health services are provided in the county in a huge new integration with the NHS as well as a number of new mergers and partnerships of front-line services.
And the council is pledging a huge £12m investment to drive forward improvements in Children’s Services while keeping a council tax rise pegged back to 1.99 per cent – below the rate of inflation – to maintain the council’s position as the lowest taxing county council and costing the average household just an extra 39p a week.
Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: “Today marks not just the publication of the budget proposals but also the publication of a new Council Plan outlining a new set of priorities for Northamptonshire. This plan shows how we are taking on a far greater role in people’s health and wellbeing and explains how we will look to build on the superb work already undertaken to save taxpayers millions of pounds while finding new innovative ways to deliver services and keep council tax rates the lowest in the country.
“Within this budget we are also making it clear that some of our services have a red line around them to ensure that despite the huge financial challenges we are tackling there will be no service reductions in those areas. We are investing in Children Services to drive forward improvements there; there will be no library or country park closures because of how critical they are in helping us in our new Wellbeing programme of work; finally there will no reduction in our efforts to mend our roads and invest in such infrastructure.”
The budget published today for the council’s cabinet is the fourth budget published since the Government’s programme of austerity started. Since that time the council has already saved £177m.
Cabinet member for finance Cllr Bill Parker said: “We know the challenge we face are not going away and we have put ourselves in the best possible position to rise to them. We pride ourselves in running a very efficient organisation and as such by 2016 through our LGSS partnership with Cambridgeshire our back office costs will account for around two per cent of our overall budget. Anyone running a business or organisation will recognise what an incredible achievement that is.
“Of course the flip side of this is that we no longer have a back office we can turn to make further savings as we are an organisation effectively without one. This means we are now having to look at our front line services. We need to make them even more efficient, even more innovatively delivered and where possible run in partnership with others.
“I am delighted we have managed, once again, to publish budget proposals, which allow us to focus on our priorities and drive forward innovation and efficiencies while meeting the financial challenge set us and keep people’s tax bills the lowest in the country.”