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Budget looks to promote growth and development

ByDave Stopher

Jan 4, 2017

Northumberland County Council’s budget for the next year aims to continue protecting frontline services and promoting growth – despite facing further cuts of £36m over the next three years.

While still facing continued reduction in funding from central government, the savings needed to be made by the council have reduced by £10m up to 2020 – due to a combination of increased income from council tax receipts linked to economic growth and housing development and increased income from third party loans.

However the challenging cuts mean the Council is continuing to undergo a major transformation in the way it operates and delivers services.

In some instances this has resulted in some changes to services to ensure they can continue rather than being stopped completely; such as the relocation of some libraries into leisure centres and the development of one-stop shops of council services.

The council has also continued its commitment to investing in the county through its £381m capital programme over the next year. The programme includes proposed investment in new schools and leisure centres, infrastructure improvements, increased parking provision and development of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line.

The report being prepared for council proposes cuts of £6m in 2017-18 and a total of £36m up to 2020.

Council leader Grant Davey said: “Each year the setting of our budget becomes more challenging as our funding settlement from central government cuts ever deeper.

“We have had significant reductions in our Settlement Funding Assessment and Revenue Support Grant and less Core Spending Power in comparison with the England and regional average.

“However we are living in different times now and need to think differently – we are doing all we can to maintain vital frontline services; investing in town centres generating jobs in the county, improving education and providing affordable housing.
“There are a number of exciting developments planned across Northumberland as we continue to find innovative ways of doing business, generating sound returns for all residents as well as the council  and making a great county even better.
The budget and medium term financial plan will be presented to the council’s Cabinet on February 7 before recommendations are made to full council on February 22.