A county councillor is calling for more financial support for schools in Northumberland as the budget consultation is launched.
Councillor Robert Arckless, the policy board member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, was speaking following confirmation that the authority will have to slash £130 million off its budget over the next four years.
For 2014/15 it is looking at a reduction of £33.7m including cuts of £14.2m to adult services and housing, £4.9m to children’s services and £7.5m to local services among other reductions.
The medium-term financial plan for the council will see higher savings in 2015/16 of £35.8m followed by £31.4m in 2016/17 and £32.8m in 2017/18.
“This is probably one of the toughest budgets in 20 years,” said Councillor Arckless, who is concerned about education funding following the recent emergency inspection of 17 schools in the county. Oftsed found standards in three-quarters of them had failed to improve or declined.
“In the area of children’s services the last couple of months will have a significant effect on how we move things forward,” he added.
“One of the issues that has been very clearly highlighted is the need for more support for schools.
“We are still thinking on the detail of how we do that but I hope we will be able to deliver more support.
“I am sure every other policy board member will have the same to say about their services.
“But particularly in children’s services, there are challenges that need to be addressed. There needs to be a short-term strategy to deal with the Ofsted issue.”
Councillor Dougie Watkin said a third of the budget cuts from local services is directly related to the free car parking initiative.
The county council’s policy board approved the budget recommendations on Tuesday and they will now go out for consultation.