Crunch talks under way as struggling council discusses plans to reduce debts

Members of Northamptonshire council are meeting this morning to look at proposals aimed to address a £70 million shortfall

group meeting
Photo: Rido/Fotolia

A full council meeting is currently under way as members of Northamptonshire county council look to reduce a spending shortfall of £70 million.

Last week, the council announced it was looking to cut social care services back to a ‘core offer’ as it attempted to balance the books.

Proposals indicated that both children’s and adults’ services could be affected by the “radical” savings being made at the authority, despite previous public commitments to protect the most vulnerable citizens in the area.

Starting at 10:30 am this morning, members are discussing “a number of steps required to significantly reduce spending” as part of the authority’s budget recovery plan.

Second notice

Spending on learning difficulties was identified as one of the potential areas of cuts that could be made to adults’ services. Meanwhile, the number of referrals and numbers within the children’s care system will be scrutinised by the county council as it looks to strip services back to a “core offer”.

The report also revealed plans for a “staff redundancy programme” that is likely to affect most departments.

Plans to make “significant” spending reductions come after chief finance officer Mark McLaughlin issued the council’s second Section 114 notice in six months. In the notice, he warned there would be “serious operational implications” to the way the council was run, and it appears social care services have not escaped the cuts.

Speaking after the notice was issued, council leader Cllr Matt Golby said compromises would have to be made.

“These are incredibly challenging times for the council, but I am committed to ensuring we deliver those core services within the money we have available.”

What is a 114 notice?

Found in the Local Government Finance Act 1988, this notice bans local authorities from making any new expenditures, with the exception of safeguarding vulnerable people and statutory services.

Spending that is nonessential or can be postponed should not take place. Money that is spent will be monitored. In the case of Northamptonshire county council, the notice will apply to the 2018/19 financial year.

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