Protecting front-line services from dramatic service cuts and helping services to become more self-financing is at the heart of Northamptonshire County Council’s budget proposals published today which sees another £66m worth of savings outlined.
Budget proposals for 2015/16
The report forecasts that over the next five years the cost of providing services, due to increases in demand and other pressures, will rise by £99m while the money given to us by government will reduce by £81m. This means the cost of running the services we must run will be double the amount of income available to us.
To plug this growing gap significant savings are proposed by working more closely with partners in waste management and health and social care while other services such as the school meals service will start to work on the Next Generation Model as described in today’s Council Plan by becoming fully self-financing.
Investment is proposed in Adult and Children’s services to cope with the ever growing demand in these areas while front line services used by the public to increase their wellbeing such as libraries and country parks are protected from service reductions.
Other proposals include a full review of fees and charges and a rise in council tax of 1.95 per cent which keeps tax rates in the county as the lowest in the UK.
Cllr Jim Harker said: “Our council plan and our previous budgets have made it quite clear that on top of these budget proposals we are working on longer term plans which will make us more financially secure in the future. What this budget does is ensure that while these longer term plans are developed we continue in our work to protect those front line and critical services despite the huge wave of budget reductions we are having to implement.
“Once again those services which are so treasured by our communities and help their wellbeing such as libraries and country parks are protected – which is not the case across the country. Once again we are investing in core safeguarding services to make sure we are still doing all we can to protect society’s most vulnerable.
“But of course when you are taking this sort of money out of services we are having to make tough decisions which we know will not be popular. We are having to look at the fees and charges we apply to people who use our services, partner organisations and others who operate in the county such as utility companies.”
Cabinet member for finance Bill Parker said: “As always in facing up to these huge financial challenges what we place above all others is our determination to provide services which help safeguard the most vulnerable, services which promote health and wellbeing and protect taxpayers from unacceptable rises in council tax.
“I am confident that this is a balancing act which we have achieved but now what is most important is that people give us their views on what we are proposing.”