Council cuts ‘inevitable’ given the level of savings required
NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has pledged to do its utmost to protect frontline services despite a poor financial settlement from local government which means it must save £23.6m over the next year.
The majority of savings needed to produce a balanced and viable budget will come from increased efficiency, renegotiations of contracts and reorganisation of council services.
Budget proposals are now open for consultation but the lateness of the government settlement means that views and observations need to be forwarded to the council by February 10.
Leader, Coun Jeff Reid, said: “The council has successfully managed its financial position over a number of years whilst coping with a number of significant challenges, particularly local government reorganisation and the recent major reduction in public sector expenditure.
“The 2013/14 budget reductions of £23.6m are on top of having already made enormous efficiency savings of over £110m since the unitary authority was formed in 2009.
“We have looked very carefully at how we can reduce expenditure, increase income and make efficiency savings while minimising the impact on frontline services, residents and council staff.”
The majority of the budget savings will be delivered from central corporate services, adult services and housing which face a £16m cut in 2013/14.
A further £8m has been earmarked from children’s services, fire and rescue, highways, waste, transport and public health and protection services.
Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate services, said: “Despite the very poor financial settlement Northumberland has received from central government we are doing our best to protect services and jobs.
“It is inevitable, given the level of savings required, that some cuts have had to be made. However, protecting frontline services has always been a top priority for us and the council’s investment in key services such as highways, children and young people, adult services, leisure and libraries remains strong.”
The authority’s medium term financial plan, which outlines more than £314m capital investment in local projects over the next three years, also received the green light from the executive on Monday. The plan aims to provide a longer term view that is more sustainable given the uncertainty around government funding.
Plans include the freezing of council tax for a third consecutive year and continued capital investment in schools, transport, broadband, affordable housing and street lighting.
It has also pledged to protect working age claimants from any cuts in council tax benefit and housing benefit by adopting the national scheme despite a requirement for councils to make 10 per cent savings.
The report will be considered by the full council on February 27.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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