With the publication of the first ever draft revenue budget for North Northamptonshire Council, leaders of the shadow authority are emphasising that this is a fresh start for their residents.
The total draft revenue budget for 2021/2022 is £284.8 million with the new authority providing all local government services in the north of the county including housing and economic regeneration, leisure and tourism and waste disposal and collection.
While the wider transformation programme is on target to deliver £80m savings across all eight councils in Northamptonshire, like for many councils, the Covid-19 pandemic has created pressure no one could have foreseen on finances for the coming year.
This includes higher demands on services or for help and the delay in delivering savings and the transformation of services as well as a loss of income and reduced Council Tax and Business Rates collection. While the situation is constantly changing, this has created a funding gap which currently stands at £18 million.
Measures are already being introduced to address this gap, including making sure savings that have already been planned can be delivered and also those delayed by Covid-19 can be recovered.
It is also proposed that Council Tax is increased by 4.99%, comprising 1.99% core tax and a 3% adult social care precept, which is the maximum amount permitted.
This would contribute around £8m per annum and would represent a Band D level of Council Tax of £1,532.90 in 2021/22, or the equivalent of £29.48 per week, bringing the financial gap down to £10m.
Cllr Russell Roberts, Leader of the Shadow Authority, said: “This is a fresh start for North Northamptonshire Council and I’m confident that we can build on the good work that has already been started to transform services in the county.
“However, as we all know, Covid-19 has had a massive impact on everyone, not just here in the county but also worldwide, and this has had an impact on our finances at least in the short term.
“But we are working hard to address this and indeed, we are already making inroads into closing this gap.
“Local government reorganisation is absolutely right for Northamptonshire and the benefits of creating two new councils in the county is huge and will benefit everyone in the long term.”
Cllr Ian Jelley, shadow portfolio holder for finances and revenues and benefits, said: “I would like to acknowledge all of the hard work that has taken place to transform and develop services in the lead up to vesting day and I’m confident that this has allowed the council to be in a strong position going forward to us becoming operational on April 1.
“There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has had a large effect on our finances but I believe that this is an obstacle that we have to overcome to take forward the good practises we now have in place, so that we can provide the very best services and support for the residents of North Northamptonshire.”
The formation of the Council and the reorganisation of local government in the county as a whole has many advantages, not just for residents but in making services more efficient and cost-effective.
Sustainable, green development is at the heart of the ambition for growth in North Northamptonshire, with a desire to be an outward looking council to take advantage of the area’s position at the centre of the country’s transport network.
While a growing investment in tourism, leisure and green infrastructure will be balanced with the protection and enhancement of the area’s landscape and character, which we all love.
The council will also assert its place within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and link into the potential opportunities this creates.
Further integration of adult social care and health services is also key to the future, working towards a new way of delivering important services. This makes sense as not only is there a financial efficiency but also it is much less complicated for those of you out there who want to access the services.
The draft revenue budget will be discussed at a meeting of our shadow executive meeting on December 7 and, if approved, a consultation period will go live on December 11. You can see the papers here.
Following the consultation, final budgets proposals will be put before the shadow executive in February.