Daventry District Council questions if necessary county council savings can be made

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Questions have been raised by Daventry District Council (DDC) about proposed savings and cuts planned by the county council.

Daventry District Council has published its draft response to the budget put forward by Northamptonshire County Council for 2016/17.

In December the cash-strapped county council revealed proposals for a drastic savings programme, including plans to close two care homes, slash spending on adult social services by more than £27 million and hike council tax by nearly four per cent.

The Conservative-lead county council also said it would cease the Nourish school meals service, and save money by moving to a “combined authority”.

But DDC’s response to the proposals says there are flaws in some of the assumptions, missing information, and a lack of detail in many areas, and overall it questions if the budget will deliver the savings the county council needs to find.

DDC, which is also Conservative-run, says in its draft response

On creating a combined authority, DDC’s response says the £4 million of savings ‘does not appear to be based on any analysis’ and points out it is unlikely to be delivered in 2016 due to the legal steps, and even if it was the county already has a county-wide organisation – the county council.

DDC goes on to question the need for the county council to build itself a new central headquarters, and points out that the Grange Care Home in Daventry has been left unused for years when it could be used to make money.

The county wants to spin off its wellbeing services into a new community interest company. But DDC says: “DDC has serious concerns that the company has substantial risks of not being able to deliver the combined policy and financial expectations of it.

“In the best case, this would produce a situation of little actual change; in the worst, a company failure could be highly disruptive to service users, costly to NCC, and result in substantial knock-on costs to district and borough councils, the NHS, established community and voluntary organisations and other service providers within the sector.”

The district also questions the need to spin off children’s services into a separate company when many of the proposed savings could be made in-house.

And on Fire and Rescue savings, DDC says the county council’s own wording suggests crew and engine numbers will be cut, and response times lengthened.

DDC’s official response to the county council’s budget will be decided on at the Strategy Group meeting at 6.14pm on Thursday January 14.