Budget aims 'to fix Northumberland's long-term problems'

Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services.Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services.
Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services.
Northumberland County Council’s budget and spending plans for the coming years have reached the final stage, after being signed off by the leadership.

After being backed by the authority’s cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday (February 12), they now progress for final approval from the full council at its meeting next Wednesday (February 20).

As previously reported, the proposed budget for 2019-20 and medium-term financial plan for the next three years includes details of £25million of cuts, including £12.8million next year, a total council-tax hike of 3.99 per cent from April and capital investment of £589million.

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Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services, said: “This budget is about fixing some of the long-term problems we as a county experience.”

There wasn’t a great deal of discussion at the meeting, as the proposals have already been debated at the five local area council meetings and last week’s corporate services scrutiny committee, while there is sure to be some criticism aired at next week’s full council.

However, council leader Peter Jackson did highlight ‘some of the significant pressures we are facing up to’, by injecting extra funding into key budgets, such as children’s and adults’ social care, to a total of £9.3million next year.

Coun Oliver added this meant that even where savings were being delivered, some overall budgets were increasing, for example, there are efficiencies of £6.3million earmarked in adult social care in 2019-20, but also growth of £8.9million.

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Coun Wayne Daley, the deputy leader, said: “For many years, every budget was doom and gloom. I’m really proud that we have one of the most radical investment strategies into our schools infrastructure of any administration.

“There are challenges, but this is a really innovative, positive message for the people of Northumberland.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service