Budget up for approval next week

County Hall in Morpeth.
County Hall in Morpeth.

The leadership at the county council has approved next year’s budget and its spending plan for the next four years.

Following the sign-off of the cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday, the budget will get final approval when it goes before next Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Introducing the document, Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate resources, said: “We are in a challenging situation, which has been well-documented.”

Council leader Peter Jackson added: “We are determined to put this council on a firm and prudent financial footing and that can’t be done in one year. Some difficult choices have had to be made.”

But he also highlighted elements which will ‘make Northumberland a better place’ such as the removal of post-16 transport charges, investments in schools and money for car parks.

However, Coun Jeff Reid, the Lib Dem group leader and chairman of the economic growth and corporate services scrutiny committee, said: “It’s a budget, it adds up, but there’s far too much in there that’s undeliverable.

“There’s lots of reviews and I think you will be sitting here next year with things you haven’t delivered.”

The meeting heard that the council’s funding settlement from the Government was £1.3million more than expected.

As previously reported, the financial plan includes cuts of £65.1million from 2018 to 2022 alongside the ‘most ambitious capital programme the county has ever had’ of £580million.

Council tax is set to rise by 2.99 per cent from April, with an additional two per cent rise for adult social care. There will be further 1.99 per cent increases in 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22.