Northamptonshire County Council puts 300 jobs at risk as budget set

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Up to 300 jobs could be lost in the next year at Northamptonshire County Council as the authority's budget for 2013-14 was approved at County Hall.

Protesters campaigned outside as the full council gave the go-ahead to next year's revenue budget of £437.9m.

The Conservative-led authority's council tax precept was frozen, but overall savings will total £33.6m.

Chris Stanbra, deputy leader of the Lib Dem opposition, said the council was "slashing community safety".

In the budget children's social care will be hit by a £3.65m cut while £420,000 will be taken away from Northamptonshire Fire Service.

The authority is under pressure to make savings of £77.5m over the next three years.

Up to 300 jobs are at risk at the council following the announcement, but Bill Parker, the councillor responsible for finance, said he would be "surprised" if more than 150 of those would go.

He blamed the majority of cutbacks on a loss in funding from central government.

'Wrong decisions'

Leader of the council Jim Harker said: "When we launched our four-year framework last year, we promised to freeze council tax, to make further back-office savings and find new ways to work in partnership to help save money even further.

"As we enter the second year of that framework, I'm pleased to be able to say that we've continued to press ahead to ensure our limited resources are targeted in the right places."

Mr Stanbra said: "Northamptonshire Conservatives are making the wrong decisions, slashing community safety and crucial support for the vulnerable, whilst wasting millions on bureaucracy.

"What is really sad about all this is that they did have a choice. They could have cut councillors' allowances for the cabinet, they could have cut back office bureaucracy much further than they have and they could have cut money for marketing and communications."

Steve Bennett, from union Unison, said: "People have just had enough - we have had no pay rises for three years, we've gone from 8,000 members of staff down to 5,000 and we're still picking up the same amount of work.

"We're seeing more and more vulnerable members of our society facing cuts, not getting the service they previously had and we're all concerned."

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