The financial situation at Northants County Council is now so bad and the likelihood of (for the second year running) the council not balancing it’s budget so great that Labour council leaders and others across all of Northamptonshire have taken the unusual step of writing to the Conservative Secretary of State to share with him their concerns and asking him for a meeting to try to deal with the worsening situation.
I was happy to be one of the signatories of the letter as my concerns for how the local financial crisis will effect local public services are growing.
As Labour leaders from across Northamptonshire we have sounded the alarm over an unprecedented £133million hole in the County Council’s budget and called for a package of government measures including:
- A commitment from central government to meet the costs of reorganisation and transformation.
- A commitment from government to allow Northamptonshire flexibility to use capital receipts to help fund the deficit, with the remainder of the debt to be put into a residuary body after reorganisation.
- A public inquiry into what went wrong with Northamptonshire’s finances so that lessons can be learned and mistakes avoided in the future.
- The fair funding review of Northamptonshire and similar authorities to be brought forward so that local services can be funded ono a sustainable basis.
- The costs of the commissioners, estimated in budget papers to be £457,000 should be met by central Government which appointed the commissioners and to which they report.
“We believe that the inability of the Conservative administration to manage the finances or services poses acute risks to the most vulnerable people in Northamptonshire,” the letter says and calls for an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State James Brokenshire.
We also criticise some of the measures in the Council’s current cuts plans for being undeliverable, impractical, and lacking in consultation or legal concurrents. We say that the reported savings in the social work budget because of the inability of the council to recruit qualified social workers are a disaster for the county’s children.
A copy of the letter can below (click the images to expand them), or downloaded as a PDF by clicking here.