13 December 2011

Keeping the county’s council tax the lowest in the country and continuing to reduce back office and support costs is central to Northamptonshire County Council’s Local Deal proposals.

Included in today’s proposals are a raft of measures which would see the council able to trim up to £18m off its costs by further reorganising its back office, entering into shared services with other organisations and changing the way it works.

And with the potential levels of savings so high it is possible to once again propose a freeze in council tax this year meaning the council retains its position as the lowest charging county council in the country.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Bill Parker said: “I already would have gone as far to say that this council not only offers the lowest county council tax in the country but also one of the leanest back offices and this year’s proposals make me even more confident in saying that.

“Everywhere you look through this budget you see proposals to save more money from the back office with limited impact on frontline services; you see proposals to look at sharing key services with other councils and agencies allowing us to save money and you see proposals to change the way we work to allow even more efficient working.

“This is central to our side of The Local Deal; it wouldn’t be right for us to be asking for people to come forward to help us deliver services if we weren’t 100 per cent sure that we already had our house in order. Today’s proposals show we are aiming to do just that.

“I have always been proud of our ability to be able to keep county council tax as the lowest in the country and to be able to do so in the backdrop of the biggest financial challenges is particularly pleasing. We must however always remember that keeping this tax low isn’t an end in itself. By pegging our council tax back we are making sure that people keep money in their own wallets – and at this hugely testing time for our whole country this has never been more important.”

Proposals in the budget include savings of a further £3.7m through LGSS – shared back office with Cambridgeshire County Council – £4.2m through a general review of employment costs, and £2m through exploring further partnerships to deliver highways services.

In addition to this there are proposals to complete the transformation of certain services into arms-length or stand-alone self-financing organisations – meaning they can continue to run and improve their offering but do so at little or no cost to the taxpayer. Examples of this include the proposal to complete the transformation of Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts School into a stand-alone charitable organisation and continuing the development of the Learning Achievement School Improvement (LASI) function into an income making service.

Such proposals build on the council’s already strong track record in establishing arms length or stand alone organisations such as Olympus Care Services and the Flourish Company.

Other proposals include the creation of an Energy Services arms-length business and exploring commercial opportunities within Archaeology.