Mark Conrad 18 June 2018

Fresh finance warning for Northamptonshire County Council

Northamptonshire CC’s finance director has issued an early warning the county already risks missing key savings targets that enabled it to agree a legal budget.

In an early assessment of Northamptonshire’s financial position, Mark McLaughlin, said that, as things stand, around £11m of the £35m savings the council targeted may not be achieved.

He warned that with Northamptonshire likely to be forced to hand millions in grants back to Public Health England unanticipated new spending will need to be prioritised.

A report to senior councillors by Mr McLaughlin seen by The MJ read: ‘The need to redirect some of the county council’s budget towards the achievement of public health outcomes - following challenge by Public Health England on potential non-compliant use of public health grant - is a further pressure.

'The precise quantum is yet to be finalised.’

Mr McLaughlin also warned of the continued risk that the council’s planned flexible use of capital receipts may not fully comply with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government rules.

Referring to the risks of not delivering the county’s savings plan, McLaughlin’s report read: ‘Although this is an early analysis, we have to be conscious of the risks associated with deliverability and the consequences of those risks materialising.

'This is especially important in the context of the failure of the county council to deliver savings in previous budgets.’

Northamptonshire issued a Section 114 notice earlier this year and is currently subject to intensive Whitehall intervention, overseen by two Government-appointed commissioners.

As part of the county’s plan to identify further revenue streams, councillors this week also discussed the idea of renting out part of its new headquarters at One Angel Square to external tenants.

Portfolio holder for finance, Cllr Michael Clarke, said the lettings plan could ‘help pay the bills’.

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