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Council to outsource all services and drastically reduce workforce

Plans to begin the outsourcing pf all services and make cuts of £68m have been approved by Northamptonshire County Council in the biggest shake-up of the authority in 125 years.

Over the next five years, the council will outsource its services to mutual companies. The vast majority of the council's 4,000 staff will also move to four new bodies – leaving just 150 employed by the authority.

The ‘Next Generation Model’ will see a core council, made up of the 150 remaining staff, commission "specialist social enterprises".

Meanwhile the four newly created bodies will be responsible for child protection, care of vulnerable adults, health and well-being services, and improving the county.

The plans are similar to the ‘easyCouncil’ approach proposed by Barnet Council in 2011. Based on the idea of mimicking the low-cost airline which made many once-standard features into paid-for extras, reducing the basic cost, it was examined by many other local authorities as well. The idea met fierce resistance and was eventually dropped.

The budget report discussed by councillors at yesterday’s full council meeting said that over the next five years the costs of providing services due to a continued surge in demand and other pressures will rise by £104m while the money given by government will reduce by £79m.

Councillors agreed to "efficiency savings" including spending £1m less on promoting the county's economy, £7m less on waste management, £750,000 less on the fire service budget and saving £4m reviewing all looked after children in places outside the county.

But cabinet member for finance, Bill Parker, said the budget protects "frontline and critical services" such as libraries and country parks.

The Conservative-led council said work to implement the "Next Generation Model" would see it explore how services can become "separate stand-alone organisations free from statutory restraints".

Council leader Jim Harker told the BBC that traditional methods "not only no longer work financially, but also do not meet the needs of citizens".

He said the changes would be the biggest seen by the council in its 125 year history.

Councillors also agreed to raise council tax by 1.95%.

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Peter Hall   14/06/2015 at 06:57

This is a very exciting development which could lead to a revolution in the provision of government services. Where there is competition excellence becomes the norm. This experiment, if it truly opens up provision of government services to competitive tenders will hopefully reduce costs while improving quality. Good luck !

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