25 February 2010

Strong finance planning is allowing Northamptonshire County Council to launch a new maintenance blitz on Northamptonshire’s roads and divert extra cash into transforming child and adult care services.

Today (25 FEB) full council voted to pass the council’s budget which will see a council tax rise of 3.5 per cent keeping it as the lowest county rate in the country, while new areas of expenditure were unveiled as a result of consultation and to target priority areas.

The budget includes savings of more than £21m mainly made up of making services run more efficiently as the council puts itself in the best possible position to rise to the challenges set to face public sector spending as a result of the recession.

The tough financial planning this year has allowed areas of extra investment with new figures showing the council is well on course to deliver a balanced budget this year meaning money put aside as a safety net can now be pumped back into the budget.

The new areas of investment announced today include £2m into roads, £1m into heath and social services, £1m into the Dignity in Care programme and £1.5m into a transformational review of children in care funding.

This extra investment means in total the council will be providing an extra £6.9m for HASS and £3.4m for children and young people services.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Bill Parker said: “We have made no secret of our future financial challenges as all the public sector braces itself for significant public spending cuts. This budget puts us in the best possible position to face up to these challenges.

“In this budget we are balancing investing in the areas people have told us are their priority, keeping taxes low and probably most importantly beginning the process of making significant savings.

“The new announcements today are investments which will allow us to run services more efficiently in the future. For example a blitz on highways now targeting specific locations will help us avoid future and more significant costs. Extra money now into transforming the children in care funding will mean we will make sure this is affordable long-term.

“I am also delighted that tight financial planning this year meaning we are coming in more or less on budget now means we can put the money into programmes such as Dignity in Care and health and adult social services to allow us to cope with demographic pressures.”

Cabinet member for commercial and asset management Cllr Andrew Langley said: “The country faces tough times and we have to make tough choices balancing the needs of vulnerable older people and the future of our young people with the needs of taxpayers.

“Much of the extra investment announced today is essentially needed as we cannot simply duck the demographic pressures we face. Thankfully we have been able to provide these resources because of good management and tight financial planning this year.”