Northants agrees to spend £8m on public health after grant row

22 Jun 18

Northamptonshire council and Public Health England have agreed that £8m will to be reinvested in public health services following a row over misspent grant, the local authority has confirmed. 

The embattled council will invest the money into public health services in the county rather than paying the ring-fenced money back to PHE.

It is still in negotiations with the quango on where the money will be spend.

A council spokesperson told PF that they will “have to take the funds from other places” but that the source of funding was not yet known.

The misspending, which happened over a number of years, was initially reported to be in the region of £10m, but a report from the council’s auditors KPMG, released in May, suggested the misspent grants were more to the tune of £16m.

KMPG said PHE were looking to reclaim £16m of potential ‘non-compliant spend’ - £3m of which was used in 2017-18.

The PHE grant was used to prop up adult and child social services as opposed to its indended purpose to fund a range of public health programmes, such as sexual health.

A council spokesperson said: “Following extensive discussions with Public Health England, we have reached an agreement regarding £8.038m of public health grant funding historically spent on public services, including adult social care and children’s services, that did not comply with grant conditions.

“We are currently confirming arrangements with PHE as to how [the county council] will reinvest this money in public health services for the benefit of the people of Northamptonshire.”

In its interim audit report, KPMG said: “We identified various transactions which did not appear to be in line with the conditions of the grant despite having been signed off within the Preliminary Statement of Assurance on 19 May 2017 by the former section 151 officer”.

Image credit: Hazel Nicholson, Flickr Images


January 2018 - Sajid Javid sends in inspector to investigate the council’s financial management

February 2018 - the council issues the first ‘section 114’ notice in 20 years, banning all spending except on statutory services

February 2018 - the council plans to sell off their brand new headquarters to generate cash

February 2018 - auditors warn the council’s budget may not be lawful

February 2018 - the council passes a revised budget

March 2018 - inspector Max Caller publishes report recommending the county is split into two unitaries

March 2018 - council accepts the reports findings - leader Heather Smith steps down

March 2018 - Javid announces that the council will continue to make majority of decisions despite government commissioners’ involvement

April 2018 - Matthew Golby appointed new council leader 

April 2018 - Leaseback agreement of headquarters is agreed 

May 2018 - Council announces plans to set up improvement board

May 2018 - Council balances its books with the use of reserves

May 2018 - Commissioners are announced by new secretary of state James Brokenshire

May 2018 - Auditor’s interim report reveals potential figure of PHE grant repayment

June 2018 – Final sum of misspent PHE grant is settled

Did you enjoy this article?