Children's services likely to be big loser in Northamptonshire County Council cuts

Northamptonshire County Council needs to potentially find up to 70m of savings this financial year
Northamptonshire County Council needs to potentially find up to 70m of savings this financial year

Children’s services are likely to be one of the hardest hit areas when Northamptonshire County Council makes cuts in order to balance its finances.

The county council issued a further section 114 notice this week banning any new expenditure. Chief finance officer Mark McLaughlin had issued a first notice in February for the previous financial year.

But at an audit meeting yesterday, Mr McLaughlin admitted that the budget for last year ‘won’t balance’. The latest section 114 notice comes as a result, with £60m to 70m of savings needed to be found.

And Mr McLaughlin revealed that the day-to-day realities of such cuts will make for grim reading for residents, with children’s services likely to be one of the biggest losers.

He said: “It leaves the council in a very difficult position. We will have to do everything we can to try to reduce expenditure. There won’t be decisions, they will be things that have to happen. Ducking and diving is not appropriate for an authority such as this. It makes for fairly grim prospects.

“The council is actually a low spender on a lot of things. But a lot of attention will go on children’s services where it’s a big spender.”

Going into more detail about why the council was in such a stark financial predicament, he said: “Fundamentally, the council borrowed money from the future to spend for the past and present, which was the wrong thing to do. That money belongs to the people of Northamptonshire.

“The big problem here is that people have been given the wrong advice. The council was spending more money than it had available. You have to live within your means and the council didn’t do that.”