Budget cuts of £148 million will result in Northamptonshire County Council ‘outsourcing’ 95 per cent of staff

Budget press conference at County Hall. Names l-r: Bill Parker, Jim Harker, Paul Blantern. ENGNNL00120131012160733
Budget press conference at County Hall. Names l-r: Bill Parker, Jim Harker, Paul Blantern. ENGNNL00120131012160733

The most dramatic changes to public services for 125 years will see Northamptonshire County Council reduce its workforce from 4,000 to 150 people in a bid to carve £148 million out of its budget within the next five years.

The authority is due to outline huge cuts to its budget today - with its government funding likely to reduce by £81m in the next five years and the cost of providing service to rise by £99m in that time.

This afternoon it will announce its ‘council plan’ to meet the financial challenges, which will see the authority effectively outsourcing the majority of its services - such as social care and children’s services - to privately operated social enterprises free to compete with others for council services.

Speaking today, leader of the council, Councillor Jim Harker said: “The traditional model for the council and the local service delivery is unsustainable.

“The method of paying for local services through government grant no longer stacks up and in Northamptonshire our demand is far outstripping our income as we continue to play our part in tackling the national deficit.”

The size of the council workforce would be greatly reduced - from 4,000 to a core staff of 150 people - as a result of what the authority has dubbed is ‘next generation’ model.

Chief executive Paul Blantern, speaking at a press conference this morning, stated there would be minimal redundancies, with most current employees transferred across to the new contractors with the current departmental structures largely retained.

The 150 remaining staff would include those working in business intelligence and market development teams.

The new service model would see the creation of four new separate ‘mutual’ organisations over the next five years which will be employed by the council to deliver for the county.

The proposals are to create a child protection services mutual; an accountable care organisation – to deliver services to protect vulnerable adults; a “wellbeing community organisation” and a “place shaping company” – to deliver services aimed at improving Northamptonshire as a place.

Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Bill Parker said: “These organisations would be free to win contracts with other organisations and generate additional income – much like we have seen with our back office services through the LGSS model.

“By winning new contracts and earning extra income LGSS has systematically reduced the costs of these services to the county council. The Next Generation Model would look to expand this spirit across our front line.”

Cllr Harker added: “This is all about setting these services free from direct council control. Free to find new income streams and new markets, which will help not only protect these services from spending cuts but also by using this income to offset their cost to the council taxpayer.

“The budget published alongside these plans today begins to show the first steps of what this might look like financially. What you won’t see is one budget proposal which outlines huge savings based on this plan. Rather this is the only way we can set ourselves up for the future and it is this plan which underpins all budget proposals.”