Friday brief: Council makes reserve raid plan to meet adult social care costs
Plus our usual Friday digest of some news from the week
The North unitary has amended plans for next year’s budget, and will go into its reserves to plug the gap for the growing demand for adult social care budgets.
As reported by NN Journal recently, it was the rising cost of adult social care which led to the authority recently putting in spending controls, a tactic employed by the former county council when it hit the financial skids in 2018.
Now the authority has amended the budget it published in December for the coming 2024/25 financial year, adding in an extra £4.096m to the existing £142m adult social care budget.
The extra funds will come from a new government grant -which the authority estimates will be around £2.6m and it will take £1.4m from reserves. It is also forecasting its budget will be short by £41m in 2025/26; £61m the following year and £87m the year after. The costs are largely down to children’s and adults social care and the cost of placements - which are generally provided by private companies.
The authority is asking residents to pay an inflation busting 4.99% extra on their council tax to meet the rising costs of providing services. The overall budget being spent is £375m.
The authority will discuss the budget at the executive next week and then it will go to the full council for approval.
A report published by a cross party parliamentary committee this week said the financial crisis facing local government was ‘out of control’ and said government needed to plug a £4bn funding gap. It also has made recommendations for council tax reform.
Northants County Council was the first for 20 years to run out of cash, but since then a number of others have become bankrupt, with some having resorted to disastrous commercial activities to try and bring in more income.
The west unitary cabinet will discuss its budget £409m on February 13.
News in brief
A West Northants Labour unitary councillor has said she is ‘deeply disappointed’ about the scrutiny given to a review of the town’s Voi e-scooters.
The hireable scooters, which were introduced to the town in 2020, have been controversial and councillor Emma Roberts has for many months voiced her concerns about their safety.
A report before the council on Wednesday has recommended that the trial is extended until May 2026; a safety review is carried out, as well as a parking review. However a report about the number of incidents of the scooters - which the council sends regularly to the Department for Transport, was kept confidential.
In an issued statement Cllr Roberts said:
“I am deeply disappointed with the outcome of the council’s scrutiny review of Voi e-scooters and their safety that ended last night [Wednesday].
“The task and finish group was given just six weeks to conduct the review, which is nowhere near enough time to properly collect and analyse the evidence and advice we received. Scrutiny panels should set their own agenda and timings, not pander to the administration it is supposed to scrutinise. We absolutely could have had a little bit more time to do service to our concerned residents. Now we have a final report that is contradictory and doesn’t reflect the strength of feeling on the issue.”
She said she was concerned council leader Jonathan Nunn was allowed to address the panel as an ‘expert’ because he uses the scooters.
Cllr Roberts asked the panel to make a recommendation to the Conservative cabinet that they do a public consultation before any contract is renewed. The panel decided against the recommendation.
Preparation works will start soon on the multi-million pound project to replace the roof on Kettering library.
The failed roof has caused the hold up of the opening of the new Cornerstone cultural quarter, as water has been getting in.
In December the authority agreed a sum of as much as £6.8m to replace the Carnegie library roof which is Grade 2 listed and is made of expensive Collyweston slate.
The library has temporarily relocated to the upper floor of the modern Cornerstone extension.
A number of the candidates hoping to become the new MP for Welllingborough and Rushden took part in a panel discussion on BBC Radio Northampton yesterday talking about issues such as local health services, town centre decline and policing. You can listen back here to the Annabel Amos show here.
The byelection takes place on Thursday, February 15 with polling stations open from 7am to 10pm. (NN Journal will be among the media reporting from the election count and will run a blog throughout).
There’s also a great read here about the history of the parliamentary seat.
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