Proposals to transform services and increase financial stability have been agreed by Councillors at Northamptonshire County Council starting a new chapter for public services in the county.
The agreed budget will target investment into adults’ facilities and children’s homes, to provide better support for some of the county’s most vulnerable people, while at the same time drive more cost-effective ways of delivering services.
A 4.99% Council Tax increase will retain the Council’s position as having one of the lowest tax rates in the country, while providing increased financial sustainability for any new unitary councils which may be created in the county.
Leader of the Council Cllr Matt Golby described the budget, and the latest financial reports showing the organisation closing in on a balanced budget in the current year, as a turnaround point in the Council’s fortunes.
Cllr Golby said:
“For the last year it has become customary for the words Northamptonshire County Council to be associated with crisis. That has now changed.
“Our new cabinet and leadership team together with the Secretary of State’s Commissioners have spearheaded this change and we need to look at the facts.
“We are closing in on balancing this year’s budget which at one point stood at a £64.2m challenge and was immense.
“We have just agreed a budget for next year which balances, and has at its heart a commitment to transform services to make them more cost-effective rather than simply cutting them and responds directly to the concerns people raised with us through the consultation period.
“Of course the budget also includes a 4.99% rise in Council Tax and we did not take this decision lightly. While not many people welcome a rise in their bills it is important to put this into context. For the majority of people in this county it will mean a rise of between 75p and £1 a week. Even with the increase Northamptonshire will be the second lowest charging like-for-like County Council in the whole country. “
The budget includes investment in Adult Social Care centres and homes to provide new accommodation and services for older people, those with learning disabilities and mental health requirements to increase capacity and therefore reduce the reliance on costly external placements.
It also signals investment in Children’s Services to build in-house provision including increasing occupancy at the council’s own residential homes to reduce the cost of using external service providers.
Cllr Golby said: “Whilst we acknowledge the challenges we will face over the next year, we will build on the hard work and progress we’ve made over the past twelve months. Today’s budget delivers for the county’s most vulnerable. It delivers in bringing greater financial security. And it delivers in drawing a line under a very troubled time for this organisation, paving a way to a brighter future.”