Today Northamptonshire County Council shows how it intends to move towards stabilising its budget to make sure public services are more financially sustainable in the longer term.
The Stabilisation Plan is twofold: outlining the approach for addressing the £35m unfunded deficit from the last financial year (2017/18) and a detailed plan on how to balance this year’s budget (2018/19).
Leader of the council Cllr Matt Golby said:
“These are unprecedented times for us and as such we need a robust plan to address the financial challenges we now face.
The Stabilisation Plan published today alongside our latest financial reports show how we are now moving firmly towards stabilising our budget position.
However we are of course acutely aware that the challenge to deliver this plan is significant and as such we will now focus all our energy on doing so.”
Tackling the 2018/19 overspend
Earlier this year detailed financial analysis undertaken at the request of the Secretary of State’s Commissioners identified a projected overspend of £30m in the current financial year unless action was taken.
Measures already taken at the council have reduced this to £20m according to the latest Revenue Monitoring Report, and the plan published today details how the council will return to a balanced budget.
The plan includes a full schedule of proposed measures, savings and initiatives totalling almost £20m to achieve this including measures to increase the Council Tax base and reductions in agency staff.
The plan also outlines future savings for the 2019/20 budget through better contract management of Learning Disabilities suppliers and a reduction in Home to School Transport.
Tackling the 2017/18 deficit
In addition to this the plan outlines how the Commissioners are currently in consultation with the county council on how to reduce or eliminate the previously reported unfunded deficit of 2017/18 caused by the external auditor challenges around the use of ring fenced funds and transformational spend.
The commissioners are also considering an application to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for a Capitalisation Dispensation to help close the funding gap.
Further details of these measures will be announced in due course following publication of the final external audit report.
Chief Executive Theresa Grant said:
“This plan is an important step forward for this council. We now have a firm set of proposals and new measures which can help us move towards stabilising our budget.
It is critical that we continue to focus on delivering these measures and also on developing plans for the future so we can place our finances on a sustainable footing.”