Chief executive hails draft budget as ‘best in years’ for Northamptonshire County Council

Chief executive Theresa Grant (centre) pictured at a budget press conference earlier this week. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds
Chief executive Theresa Grant (centre) pictured at a budget press conference earlier this week. Picture by Kirsty Edmonds

The chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council says the budget for 2020/21 is ‘one of the best’ the council has had in years.

The draft budget for the next financial year was unveiled at One Angel Square yesterday (Monday November 4) and sees £23million of ‘savings’ to services being made.

But chief executive Theresa Grant says that the ‘savings’ are mainly to do with improving the efficiency of services and that compared to recent years the budget is ‘prudent’.

In 2018/19 the county council managed to record a £4.6million underspend, having at one point been projected to be £64.4million in the red.

Prior to that, the council had effectively declared itself bankrupt. And Mrs Grant says the budget – which also increases overall council tax by 3.99 per cent – shows the council’s progress in the last few months.

Speaking at the press conference, she said: “This budget takes into account that we will transition into unitaries, so we’ve tried to achieve the stability to ensure that the two new unitaries can start with the best possible chance of being resilient.

“We’ve also put in some substantial contingency into next year and that’s allowing for the fact that we haven’t had the full settlement for next year and that gives us some flexibility.

“There are savings in there of about £23million and it’s mainly in commissioning and efficiency. There’s no forced redundancies or restructures to deliver so there’s no loss of workforce.

“We’ve published the budget a month earlier this year so it can have increased scrutiny and robustness testing before we bring forward the final budget in February.

“To put this into context, two days before I arrived last year the last section 114 notice was issued. We’ve come from there to what I consider to be one of the best budgets this organisation will have had in a number of years. And compared to other areas and similar-sized authorities this is probably a very sound, robust and prudent budget.”