Northumberland County Council services will be protected despite £17 million in cuts, leader says

Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Leading politicians at Northumberland County Council say frontline services will not be hit by proposed cuts amounting to £17 million over the next year.

Under the plans, which will be debated by politicians this month, council tax will increase by 2.99% with a 2% rise in the social care precept.

Council leaders say they have no choice but to increase rates and make savings due to increased financial pressures on the administration.

Conservative leader of the council, Councillor Glen Sanderson said: "Throughout this budget setting process we've been acutely aware that many people are still facing financial issues due to cost of living and rising inflation. 

"Like all local authorities we are operating in a period of global financial uncertainty. We know there is pressure on households and we have done everything we can to reflect on that and mitigate where we can - such as our council tax discount and our various hardship schemes.

"Caring for the young and vulnerable will remain a top priority for the council, with funds earmarked for a further raft of school improvements and delivery progressing on planned sites for affordable and extra care housing."

The council has also put forward proposals to introduce hardship payments, both for council tax claimants and housing tenants, for the coming year.

However, Northumberland Labour leader Scott Dickinson has criticised the plan and urged the Conservative administration rethink its proposals.

He said: "I would urge the Conservatives to think carefully about the 15,000 most vulnerable residents they've already penalised this year in the middle of a real cost of living crisis.

"We'll have one of the highest council taxes in the UK and residents will genuinely be asking how on earth they are now going to be asked to pay more. We know the Government has slashed local government finance, but the leader of the council said he was pleased with the settlement.

"If he is that pleased, why are ordinary, hard-working families being forced to pay more and get less?"

Among the £17 million in savings earmarked in the budget proposals are a £4.93 million saving identified from adult social care and commissioning services. £3 million of that will come from reviewing individual packages of care.

Planning, council finance and corporate services will also see reductions in spend, amounting to almost £10 million in savings. Councillor Sanderson insists that cuts will not be at the expense of frontline services.

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