Final budget decisions will be discussed by Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet today following a six-week consultation period, outlining how the organisation will save £65m to help face up to soaring demand for services and plummeting funding from central government.
In December the council announced its proposals including a 3.95 per cent rise in council tax and savings totalling £77m on top of the £226m already saved since 2010.
Now after six weeks of consultation, further announcements by the government and a far reaching councillor scrutiny process the council has now published updated proposals.
Since December the government has outlined the cuts to the county’s funding over the next four years meaning that the council is also now in a position to outline how it will have to achieve savings over the same period. Today’s publication therefore outlines how the council will save £131m over the next four years.
Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: “Today’s announcements have been the toughest we have ever had to make. There are number of changes we have made as a direct result of our consultation period. We have listened to people’s concerns about the level of savings we were proposing for the fire service and have therefore reduced this amount in next year’s budget. We have listened to the concern our scrutiny councillors had over the cessation of Countywide Traveller Unit and have removed this proposal.
“We have also listened to our colleagues in the district and borough councils and their concerns over our proposals for closer working and the amount we believed we could save by pursuing this within 12 months. As a result of conversations with these partners we are now proposing a longer timescale for this work.
“Of course because of the financial position we are in we cannot make these changes without having an impact on other areas of the budget. Therefore today’s budget includes further cuts in services to help pay for those areas people told us were most important.”
New budget reductions included in today’s proposals include the phasing out of all traditional bus subsidies in the county within the four year plan and replacing this with a new Total Transport model for the county.
Also announced today are longer term plans to explore options for a new renewable energy facility based on new technologies to help generate revenue for public services.
Longer term plans
Cabinet member for finance Cllr Bill Parker said: “We are pleased the government has now given us a firm indication of the amount our funding will be reduced by over the next four years. This now gives us the opportunity to start looking at longer term plans with real intent as we know the scale of the task facing us.
“Today’s publication therefore gives a full picture of the next four years as opposed to the proposals announced in December which focused just on next year. We know that this financial situation is as tough as it gets but we also know that with our plans for the Next Generation Council and the associated creation of a entirely new approach to public services in the county, that we are in the best possible position to rise to this challenge and put services on a more stable footing in the future.”