Budget savings need to be found for next year

Opposition councillors have criticised the decision to spend tens of millions of pounds on a new HQ in Ashington.
Opposition councillors have criticised the decision to spend tens of millions of pounds on a new HQ in Ashington.

The majority of this year’s budget savings at County Hall have been delivered, with two-thirds of next year’s still to be found.

An update on the 2015-17 budget presented to Northumberland County Council’s cabinet meeting on Tuesday explained that the majority of the 2015/16 reductions of £28.8million ‘have been delivered as originally intended’ or alternative proposals have been put forward to cover the shortfall.

Further savings of £15.million for 2016/17 were approved in February and of these, around two-thirds have been identified with work ongoing to see how the remainder can be found.

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of the county council, said: “There’s been a lot of work done over the last 12 months.

“Achieving the savings in the first 12 months hasn’t been completely successful, but that will be remedied in the second.

“We have £95million to find until 2019, which is going to have a major impact.”

The capital programme (of spending on major projects) ‘is largely based on that agreed in February 2015’ but has been adjusted to reflect slippage of £69.8million in 2015/16, anticipated slippage/transfers from 2016-18 of £96.1million and ‘revised funding’ for the new council HQ in Ashington and the school/leisure proposals for Morpeth and Ponteland.

A fuller picture will be provided in February following the final details of the settlement from central government.

In more positive news, Northumberland’s council-tax base for 2016/17 is 99,057.56 band D-equivalent properties, a rise of 1,323.29 from this year.

Council tax rose by 1.99 per cent in this financial year and is due to rise by the same amount in April 2016.