Massive changes to frontline services in Northamptonshire announced during budget

County Hall, Northampton
County Hall, Northampton

Massive changes to frontline services run by Northamptonshire County Council have been agreed at a budget meeting at County Hall in Northampton today (Thursday).

The plan was voted through by councillors this afternoon and means the authority will move entirely away from directly delivering services into a so-called ‘Next Generation Model’ where an expert core council will commission specialist social enterprises to carry out activity to help achieve its goals for the county.

A spokesman for the authority said: “Now the plan has been approved, work will start to explore how services currently run directly by the council can become separate stand-alone organisations free from statutory restraints and deliver services aimed at the twin aims of safeguarding the county’s most vulnerable and creating greater wellbeing in the county.”

Leader of the council Cllr Jim Harker said: “The traditional model of local government not only no longer works financially but also doesn’t meet the needs of citizens any more.

“We are serving people with a totally new set of expectations about how they receive goods and services with an expectation of greater individual choice and more responsiveness. Our Next Generation Model will not only help rise to these expectations but do so in a way which is affordable.

“It is certainly no exaggeration to say that this is the biggest transformation of services in Northamptonshire since the creation of this council 125 years ago.”

The plan was formally adopted today along with the council’s budget for the next financial year and beyond.

The plan explains how during this period a much smaller organisation will be retained as the Northamptonshire County Council Group which will commission others to achieve its outcomes.

It would see the creation of four new separate organisations which will be employed by the council to deliver for the county.

These could be a children’s services mutual, an accountable care organisation to deliver services to protect vulnerable adults, an organisation to deliver health and wellbeing and an organisation aimed at improving the county as a place.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Bill Parker said: “As well as these larger organisations the message is clear that other services would also be able to form new enterprises either as private businesses, social enterprises, charities or as part of the voluntary sector.

“They would all be free to win other contracts to generate additional income to help reduce their costs to the council.

“We have already seen how this can be done in our back office through our LGSS model.

“By winning new contracts and earning extra income LGSS has systematically reduced the costs of these services to the county council. The Next Generation Model will look to expand this spirit across our front line.”