Leading politicians and officers from Northamptonshire County Council have been stepping up their argument for a better deal for the county in the run-up to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s spending announcements in Parliament later this week.
The Rt Hon George Osborne MP is due to announce the outcome of his review of all government budgets on Wednesday in a speech which will have a direct impact on the amount of money available for local services and the way councils will be funded in the future.
In the run up to the announcement leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker has pushed forward the case for better deal for Northamptonshire directly to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Additionally, cabinet member for finance Cllr Bill Parker, chief executive Paul Blantern and lead finance officers have met with principal civil servants to further push forward the county’s case.
Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: “In Northamptonshire we have been a leading authority on so many government agendas. We have shared back office services to save tax payers millions, we have kept council tax low – indeed it is the lowest of any like-for-like county in the country. We have protected front-line services by driving forward more efficient ways of working and we are pointing the way on how councils can become more financially self-sufficient in the future through our Next Generation Council model.
“However the fact remains that because of the rate of growth in the county, the associated massive increase in demand for public services and the simple fact that we don’t have adequate funding for the county or indeed better mechanisms to fund the growth we’re delivering, we are facing up to significant challenges in our budget.
“Our latest estimates show that if nothing changes our financial challenges will amount to £166 million. In short this is not sustainable. I was lucky enough to be able to speak directly with Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark MP to outline this point and I know officers and Cllr Parker have also been speaking with senior civil servants to see what likely help the Chancellor could provide.
“I’ll be watching the announcements with great interest. I’ll be looking for greater flexibility in the way councils are funded, greater reward for those councils which have been so successful in promoting growth and consequently a fairer deal for Northamptonshire.”