16 October 2017

Northamptonshire County Council’s Cabinet is set to approve starting consultation on budget savings totalling £9.6million this week (Thursday).

Unprecedented demand for local services coupled with reducing levels of central government funding mean the authority is facing a severe financial challenge.

Last month, the county council launched a campaign calling on the Government for a review of the funding model for local authorities to better reflect today’s population data and demand pressures.

Service review

The budget savings due to be discussed by Cabinet this week include a review of Northamptonshire libraries and exploring opportunities for increased community involvement, changes to the highways maintenance programme, a reduction in funding for Trading Standards and Corby children’s centres, and the removal of bus subsidies.

The proposals have been drawn up to meet five objectives:

  • To simplify the way services are delivered, removing duplication and ensuring value for money
  • To avoid demand that’s preventable and help people to manage or meet their own demand
  • To strengthen commissioning processes to get better value for money
  • To reduce or stop discretionary services and optimise income collection
  • To make better use of the workforce and avoid agency or locum staff

County council leader Cllr Heather Smith said: “There is no denying that there are difficult decisions to be made, and the proposals we have before us will undoubtedly have an impact on local communities. Therefore, what we are looking to do with some of these proposals is gauge what role local communities themselves could have in the running of these services.

“Like all public sector organisations in Northamptonshire, we are finding it increasingly difficult to protect frontline services and, without an increase in government funding, we are faced with no choice but to review some of our discretionary services as we work to deliver a balanced budget.”

'Fair deal'

County council cabinet member for finance Cllr Robin Brown said: “By 2021, we expect to have delivered £0.5 billion in savings and efficiencies – and unfortunately, this still isn’t enough.

“Our financial pressures are exacerbated by the fact some of the Government decisions affecting Northamptonshire are on hold, such as the future of social care funding, a review of business rate distribution and new bids for county unitary authority status.

“This is why we are asking for an urgent review of the Government’s funding formula for local councils to ensure we get a fair deal for residents and put us in a stronger position to protect frontline services as much as possible going forwards.”

The proposals due to be discussed by Cabinet this week also include savings achieved by converting children’s services agency workers into permanent staff, removing the empowering councillors fund and reducing consultancy spend.

The Cabinet meeting will take place at 1pm on Thursday.

Draft budget - have your say