Council gets budget under control to reduce budget gap to £36m

Northumberland County Council have published revised budget proposals for 2019-2022 following Cabinet approval.

A budget gap of £36 million has been identified between 2019-22, and detailed proposals will be worked up over the coming months to address this, in consultation with residents, businesses, stakeholders and key partners.

Last year the authority took on a savings gap of £65 million, however through managing debt more effectively, some savings already being implemented this year, and revising assumptions around social care and local government reform, this gap has  been reduced. In-depth reviews and increased scrutiny of previous saving proposals were also undertaken, helping to get savings targets under control.

Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council said: “Northumberland is a great place to live, work and visit, and our focus is on providing the best services we can to the people that call this their home.

“We faced the daunting inheritance of a savings gap of £65 million, and we’ve worked incredibly hard to get the council’s budget under control. We feel confident we’re in much more stable position through sound financial management and governance.

“As an organisation, we’re in much better shape to do more with less. We’ve made significant progress over the last six months, and managed to bring the budget gap down for the next three years. 

“However, the council’s financial prospects remain extremely challenging, and this does mean we will have to make some tough decisions to balance the books.”

Like many local authorities increased costs and growing pressures in demand for services, particularly in schools, children’s and adult social care, mean that hard choices need to be made to ensure the most vulnerable communities are protected.

The Leader added: “We are now in a position where we can bring forward an achievable budget that delivers real savings, to make sure we provide services that make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“We’re making an early start on consultation this year, to give us as much time as possible to work with our communities and key partners, to listen and consider their views. These will help develop and shape future service delivery and identify more efficient and integrated ways of working.

Capital investment in the county is still a priority for the council, and their capital programme is investing almost £580 million in physical infrastructure including new schools, transport and highway improvements, superfast broadband, and new homes across the county.

He further commented: “We’re ambitious for Northumberland with the biggest capital investment programme the county has seen in decades, and many of these are now being delivered on the ground.

“We’ll continue our commitment to invest in targeted investments, based on sound financial management and return on investment for the people of Northumberland.”

Consultation will run from 9 October for seven weeks. Budget proposals will be refined and updated following consultation and after feedback has been considered.

Revised budget proposals will be brought to the council’s Cabinet in December, with final budget plans being put forward for approval in February next year.

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