Council proposes prudent budget to balance the books
25 Jan 2018
Northumberland County Council has pledged a prudent and considered budget as it looks to balance the books and save £65m over the next four years.
Next month councillors will consider proposed efficiencies of £8.2m for the coming year, £21.1m in 2019-20, and rising to £65.1m over the term of the Medium Term Financial Plan 2018-2022.
Council Leader Peter Jackson said: “We have bold and ambitious plans for the future, but we need balance our books. By doing this, we’ll be much better placed to help support a thriving local economy and deliver value for money for the communities we serve.
“This year has very much being about putting things right, protecting essential services, and plugging historic cost pressures through increased demand in services.
“Since this administration took over last May, we’ve been working hard to bring forward achievable budget proposals that deliver savings and have tangible benefits.
“Service demand is set to continue, whether it’s repairing our roads or looking after the most vulnerable in our society, so the next three years will be more challenging and have a significant impact on the way we deliver services over that period.
“We are determined to stabilise core services by diverting resources where they are most needed.
”However we are still very much forward looking and ambitious for our future. Our capital programme is the biggest ever delivered in the County, and will invest £580m in physical infrastructure like new schools, transport and highway improvements, as well as new homes across Northumberland.
“These are all priorities for the Council and the programme reflects this - vanity projects and speculative, high risk investments are no more - targeted investments will be based on sound and prudent financial management, and return on investment.
“This capital programme of investment is strengthened further by securing the North of Tyne Devolution Deal, bringing in £600 million over 30 years - combined with new powers the deal is expected to generate £1.1billion for the local economy, create 10,000 new jobs and leverage more than £2.1billion in private-sector investment.”
To protect vital services and balance the budget, it is proposed to raise Council Tax by 2.99%. While this rise in line with inflation, it equates to 85 pence per household per week for a Band D property.
Like many local authorities across the UK, this decision has been taken in line with the Government’s assumptions around spending power and resulting Revenue Support Grant contribution.
Cllr Jackson added: “Our approach needs to be transformational in terms of integrating services and developing new ways of working, as well as exploring more opportunities to generate income.
However, we need to address a number of legacy issues and areas where our basic infrastructure has been neglected for many years.
“Over the coming years we pledge to continue investing in Northumberland’s future and making sure we get a fair deal for the whole county - one that works for everyone.”
These budget proposals have been debated at Local Area Councils throughout January 2018. These will be discussed further by the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and put forward for approval to Full Council on 21 February 2018.
Visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/budget for further information.