Further council cuts and warnings of worse to come

Cuts to the council’s budget over the four-year cycle from 2012 to 2016 will now top £100million with £23million coming in 2013/14.

A report to Monday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s executive sets out the suggested budget for 2013-14 as well as revisions to the Medium Term Financial Plan for 2012-16, which may be reviewed again after the May elections.

It explains that ‘there are major changes to the financial framework in which the council operates as a direct consequence of government policy, which create significant financial risks and uncertainty’.

The overall level of budget reduction has increased from £73.7million covering the period 2012-16, to £102.6million.

And the budget for the coming year to be recommended to full council, if approved by the executive, will see £23.6millionof cuts.

The aim is to protect frontline services with a majority of savings coming from increased efficiency, renegotiations of contracts, reorganisation and the like.

The report explains that ‘2014-15 will be an extremely challenging year due to the revaluation of the pension scheme, and the spending reductions being proposed by the Government’.

It adds: ‘The scale of the financial challenge is likely to continue beyond 2014-15 as the Government seeks to rebalance the economy and reduce public sector expenditure’.

The report also recommends the council accepts the non-recurrent funding from the Government to freeze council tax for the third consecutive year.

l Another report for Monday’s meeting, on the creation of the county’s core planning strategy, reveals that the county council’s proposed policy on large-scale wind energy development would include ‘a presumption against development within a distance of six times the turbine blade tip height of residential properties, unless it can be demonstrated that the presence of turbines would not have an unacceptable impact upon living conditions’.