Council tax to rise, 130 jobs to go and 'duplication' to face clampdown as Northants County Council announces £66.9m of cuts

The county council budget press conference this morning. From left, chief executive Paul Blantern, leader of the council, Councillor Heather Smith, cabinet member for finance, Councillor Robin Brown and interim chief finance officer Damon Lawrenson.
The county council budget press conference this morning. From left, chief executive Paul Blantern, leader of the council, Councillor Heather Smith, cabinet member for finance, Councillor Robin Brown and interim chief finance officer Damon Lawrenson.

Another stinging set of budget cuts have been announced at County Hall after the authority published plans to make £66.9 million worth of savings over the next 12 months and make 130 redundant in order to balance the books.

Finance chiefs at cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council have proposed another year of wide-ranging cuts, barely nine months after it was forced to cut its budget by £65 million.

The draft proposals include a rise of 3.95per cent in council tax including 1.95per cent for general council services and an additional two per cent specifically for adult social services.

At the heart of this year’s proposals are targets to reduce "front line service duplication," the council says – where people are "receiving more than one service to meet the same need."

The proposals also include the first savings to come from moving its 12 headquarter buildings into the new ‘One Angel Square’ glass fronted building in Angel Street.

However plans to explore a unitary local government model for the county, which some conservative estimates suggest could save an average-sized council £29 million a year - will be pushed back to the 2019/20 budget.

Leader of the council Councillor Heather Smith said: "This is the second year of the four-year budget plan announced in 2015 and once again it’s clear that to be able to continue to deliver services to this county’s most vulnerable and meet the ever-growing demand for such services, we have to make savings, generate additional income, and take a fundamental look at how we do things to make sure as a sector we are delivering the best possible value for money.

Cabinet member for finance Councillor Robin Brown said: “This process confirmed that our key services of providing for vulnerable children and adults are facing huge increases in demand with no associated increase in income, so we need to continue to find ways to do things differently across the board.

“For example, where people are receiving several services from the council and other organisations, which are all aiming to achieve the same thing for them, we are looking how these can be more streamlined to remove any duplication of effort at a time when we can’t afford such duplication.

“The Government has also made it clear that where possible we should use our assets to help pay for transformation."

To balance the budget a series of service transformations, reviews and cuts are being proposed including:

• £9.8m review of targeted early help service contracts including children’s centres.


• £12m savings in the purchasing and placements in adult services


• £8.7m savings in removing duplication of services happening across health and adult social care.


• £8.5m review of Olympus Care Services


• £20m over four years pursuing Unitary Local Government Model for Northamptonshire.

The budget outlines the largest areas of spend for the council over the next year to be

Children’s Services: £131m


Including:


• An extra £2.3m to cope with the increased number of children needing care


• An extra £1.2m for increasing contract payments and wages

Adult Services: £143m


Including


• An extra £1.7m for increasing payments to care • providers to provide better care standards


• An extra £3.9m to cope with increased the increased number of people requiring care.

Place Services including highways, transport and waste: £82m