24 February 2011

A budget for 2011/12 designed to meet Northamptonshire County Council’s biggest ever financial challenge has been agreed at a full council meeting today (24th February).

Councillors voted to pass the budget which will see savings of £73 million as well as a freeze in council tax and investments into priority areas including £30m for road maintenance and extra investment for the increasing numbers of older people and the most vulnerable children needing services.

The council has also committed extra investment to help promote jobs and prosperity in the county with an extra £2m to help attract new businesses, safeguard and create jobs in the county.

Savings will be made through a complete overhaul of services aimed at helping communities, individuals and schools help themselves and rely less on the council for services and support where possible.

Leader of the council Councillor Jim Harker said: “Everyone knows that the council is facing enormous financial challenges – the joint pressures of huge reductions in government funding as well as more and more people requiring council services mean we have to save £73m in this coming year alone and a total of £136m in the next four years.

“This budget that will allow us to face up to these challenges whilst also investing in priority areas such as road repairs and the growing number of older people and vulnerable children who need our services. We are also supporting the county through these difficult financial times by investing £2m to help promote jobs and prosperity and have committed to a freeze in council tax.

“The budget agreed today is the result of extensive consultation with residents and through the scrutiny process and their feedback has caused some significant changes to be made. Nevertheless, we are still having to make difficult decisions and the budget agreed today will mean significant changes in council services over the coming months. We can no longer afford to keep services running at the same level and in many cases we need communities and individuals to play their part.”

Among the savings are plans to review all bus subsidies and switch off 50 per cent of all street lights. An original proposal to close eight libraries has been removed and instead the council will carry out a review of all 36 libraries to consider new models for delivering library services in partnership with local communities.

Additional information:

Full details of the budget are available at http://cmis.northamptonshire.gov.uk/CmisWebPublic/Meeting.aspx?meetingID=668

A freeze in council tax means the band D rate for 2010/11 remains at £1,028.11

The draft budget proposals were first published for consultation in December, with further proposals published in January. During the eight-week consultation, there were almost 19,000 visits to our You Choose website and over 17,000 people gave feedback on the proposals or signed a petition.