26 January 2011

Further cash savings of £20m have been proposed by Northamptonshire County Council as the authority faces up to one of its biggest ever financial challenges.

In December the council announced that it would have to make £136 million of savings over the next four years as a result of huge reductions in government funding and a rapidly growing population requiring council services.

Following the Governments’ comprehensive spending review it was announced that the council was required to make £68million savings in the next financial year. However, the draft budget, which was announced only hours after the council received its funding figure from the Government, still left millions of pounds of savings to be identified.

Further work on analysing the authority’s settlement from government and clarification received in the last month has shown the total amount of additional savings the council has to find for the next financial year is £20 million.

Today the county council has published proposals on how to plug this gap. These see further savings proposed in back-office functions and deeper cuts into services already identified for reductions in order to balance the books.

Cllr Bill Parker, county council cabinet member for finance, said: “As part of the rigorous budget setting process in December last year we had to make some very difficult decisions as to where savings had to be made but this still left us with more to find.

“Originally it seemed we would need to find a further £15m. However further work on the government settlement shows that it is even worse than thought and a further £5m also needed to be identified. Subsequently finding a further £20 million savings for the next financial year has been immensely hard. We are not making these proposals lightly but tough decisions need to be made.

“I am confident that the proposals published today hit the right balance in helping us ease the burden of national debt, protect tax payers and the most vulnerable, and invest in those areas people have said are most important to them.”

Today’s proposals include a new structure for the council called the ‘Target Operating Model – which will save £2.6m while a separate review of all support services not already included in the shared services with Cambridgeshire would save a further £0.5m.

Further savings have been proposed by turning off more street lights in the county than was initially planned, which would bring an additional saving of £1 million.

A complete overhaul of the way the council funds public transport is also being announced, which would see an extra £1.4 million budget reduction. This would see the end of subsidising unprofitable bus routes while investment would be made in new public transport solutions, which would be targeted at communities to provide more tailored public transport.

The full list of the new proposals can be found on the You Choose website. The website also provides ways for people to give their feedback to the proposals while comment cards can also be picked up at local libraries and council offices.