Authority faces very challenging financial future

County Hall, Morpeth, headquarters for Northumberland County Council.
County Hall, Morpeth, headquarters for Northumberland County Council.

The county council will have to make budget cuts in each of the next four years that are twice as high as those delivered in the past two years.

That is the alarming verdict of a report to Northumberland County Council’s policy board, which will discuss the 2014-15 budget and the medium-term financial plan for 2014-18 next Tuesday, before it goes in front of the full council in February.

The recommendations are for total savings of £33.7million in the next financial year and £130million over four years.

It is also proposed that the authority increases council tax by 1.99 per cent and doesn’t accept the council-tax freeze grant from the Government next year.

And the report to members will make tough reading for many, explaining that the 2014-15 financial year will be ‘an extremely challenging one’.

It adds: “The council is expected to make savings in each and every year over the next four-year period which are approximately twice as high than those that have been delivered in each of the previous two years.

“This will undoubtedly have a major impact on the range and scale of the services which can be provided to residents.

It also says that the council is trying to direct spending into regeneration ‘in the hope that improved economic growth locally can offset some of the impact of reduced council spending and the wider implications of welfare reform’.