29 July 2016

Rigorous budget tracking at Northamptonshire County Council has shown the council is already on track to deliver £30m of required savings this year while new measures need to be considered in those areas where savings have been impacted by factors outside the council’s direct control.

In March the council agreed to £65m of budget reductions to help it cope with ongoing surges in demand in services coupled with plummeting levels of government funding.

Thorough budget tracking has shown that more than £30m of savings are on course to be delivered in full while £8m have been given a ‘red risk rating’ – meaning they are unlikely to be delivered within the required timescale. The remaining savings are judged to be ‘amber’ meaning there are some issues which need to be resolved before they can be delivered.

Balanced budget

Because of the strongly controlled management of the budget the early identification of potential pressures means other measures can be put in place and make sure a balanced budget is delivered while not compromising key services and fulfilling the council’s statutory duty.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Robin Brown said: “It is always important to remember that we are inherently a complex organisation both in terms of how we are funded and the services we provide. One of the areas we have been particularly strong at is rigorous budget tracking and sophisticated forecasting of service demands and pressures which in our world change rapidly.

“This means we are able to identify early in the financial year those areas where planned budget reductions are being delivered in full and those where difficulties exist. This is true testament to just how rigorous our financial planning and monitoring is.

"Like all councils we have significant budget challenges but being able to identify and then solve issues this early in the year as they arise shows just how far we’ve come in managing and facing up to these challenges.

“The proposals put forward today of course involve tough decisions but at the heart of them is our determination to make sure we fulfil our statutory duties and do this in a way that demonstrates fair and equitable use of taxpayers money. We will continue to ensure our resources are directed at those most in need and are delivering the best value for money.”

The proposals published today will be discussed at a cabinet meeting on Monday and if agreed work will then take place to consult those affected by the them.

'Savings on track'

Leader of the council Cllr Heather Smith said: “When I became leader I made it clear that delivery of one of the toughest ever budget challenges was one of my top priorities. Today’s report shows just how serious I was in saying that and shows just how far we have already come in doing just that.

"We are already able to say that we have delivered or are set to deliver more than £30m worth of savings and we are only a little over a quarter of the way through the year. In those areas where difficulties exist we are now looking at other options to make sure our budget savings remain on track.

“We are monitoring our budgets tighter than ever, we are highlighting potential issues earlier than ever and because of that we are able to take action quicker than ever.

“The days of publishing a budget once a year are simply no longer with us. In the ever changing world in which we operate and the ever changing pressures, political landscape and demography of the county we need to continue to be flexible within the overall framework of our council plan and respond to changes as they arise – such as those identified in this report.”