BREAKING NEWS: Agency staff in firing line as part of £20m savings plan at Northamptonshire County Council

Further cuts have been announed at Northamptonshire County Council.
Further cuts have been announed at Northamptonshire County Council.

Efforts to collect more council tax and agency worker cuts are on the way after Northamptonshire County Council revealed plans to save another £20 million this year.

In the last few minutes the authority has published a new set of papers showing how it plans to stabilise its budget.

The so-called Stabilisation Plan outlines how the council intends to address a £35 million unfunded hole in last year's budget (2017/18) as well as outlining £20 million worth of savings to balance the books in 2018/19.

Leader of the council, Councillor Matt Golby, said: “These are unprecedented times for us and as such we need a robust plan to address the financial challenges we now face.

“The Stabilisation Plan published today alongside our latest financial reports show how we are now moving firmly towards stabilising our budget position.

"However, we are of course acutely aware that the challenge to deliver this plan is significant and as such we will now focus all our energy on doing so.”

Earlier this year, detailed financial analysis undertaken at the request of the secretary of state’s commissioners identified a projected overspend of £30 million in the current financial year unless action was taken.

Measures already taken at the council have reduced this to £20 million according to the latest revenue monitoring report, and the plan published today details how the council will return to a balanced budget.

The Stabilisation Plan includes a schedule of proposed measures including hikes in council tax and reductions in agency staff.

It also outlines future savings for the 2019/20 budget through reducing the amount it spends on learning disabilities suppliers and reducing home to school transport.

The Government-appointed commissioners sent in to stabilise finances at One Angel Square in May are also considering an application to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government for a "capitalisation dispensation" - essentially allowing the authority to use capital streams to support its revenue budget - to help close the funding gap.

Further details of these measures will be announced in due course following publication of the final external audit report, the council says.

Chief executive Theresa Grant said: “This plan is an important step forward for this council. We now have a firm set of proposals and new measures which can help us move towards stabilising our budget.

“It is critical that we continue to focus on delivering these measures and also on developing plans for the future so we can place our finances on a sustainable footing.”