The creation of West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) is on course to save taxpayers a further £34million by transforming and improving services from the old legacy councils, according to the latest update going to councillors next week.
At their meeting next Tuesday (20 December), WNC’s Cabinet will be updated on how the new unitary authority has exceeded the original savings target it inherited when replacing the former Daventry, Northampton, South Northants and County councils on 1 April 2021.
Total savings of £84m were estimated from merging eight councils across Northamptonshire into two new single-tier authorities, with £49m of these delivered before the abolition of the legacy councils prior to vesting day. This left WNC and neighbouring new authority North Northants Council needing to deliver the remaining savings of £17.5m each in their first few years, through a range of assumed measures such as reducing senior staffing costs, consolidating contracts and where possible, reducing the number of buildings the council uses.
Latest figures going to next week’s Cabinet show WNC is on course to have exceeded these savings by the end of 2025/26, including an additional £16.4m as part of their transformation journey to bring together and improve services from the four legacy councils.
Since being established less than two years ago, and against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and rising inflation, the Council has faced significant challenges, bringing together multiple systems, processes, service functions and finances across 3,000 staff, 800 systems, four main office buildings and thousands of inherited contracts.
Ongoing work to transform and improve services, as well as identifying savings and efficiencies, is based around the following themes:
· Looking at where services can be reorganised or shared to reduce resource and operating costs
· Investing in ‘preventative’ services that aim to reduce or slow demand for other services and reduce costs
· Exploring ways of buying services differently and reviewing and combining contracts from the legacy councils to save money
· Aligning fees and charges originally set by the old councils, generating new income streams and accessing external grants and funding
· Bringing IT systems together and using digital innovation and automation to reduce service costs
· Centralising back office systems and processes to making them more efficient, benchmarking them against best oractice and looking at national policies that enable the capitalisation of costs or use of grants.
Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of West Northamptonshire Council, said: “I am proud of the good progress we have made in our first two years towards transforming and improving public services for our residents.
“Bringing together four councils under a brand new authority has been a huge task and a challenging journey, we transitioned while still dealing with the the Covid pandemic, the effects of which continue to impact all councils.
“It’s great to see that we are on course to exceed our targets for making efficiencies and savings, as part of the local government reform programme. Tax payers rightly expect us to make good on our promises to do this. We know there is still more work to do, and this is all being done against the backdrop of continued challenges around the cost of living, inflation, and financial pressures resulting from the rise in demand for services.
“However we have made a strong start to build upon and a clear vision for making West Northants a great place to live, work, visit and thrive.”
Cabinet will discuss the transformation update during their meeting at The Forum, Towcester, from 6pm on Tuesday, 20 December – this can be watched live via the Council’s Youtube Channel. View the report on the WNC website here: Agenda for Cabinet on Tuesday 20th December 2022, 6.00 pm - West Northamptonshire Council (moderngov.co.uk).