Northants council underspends by £4.5m

4 Jul 19

Northamptonshire County Council has reported a budget underspend - as the prime minister tells MPs she will seek to reorganise the local authority “as soon as practical”.

Northamptonshire County Council had a budget underspend of £4.5m in 2018-19, according to the authority’s final outturn report published on Tuesday.

The council noted that this figure is an improvement of £34.6m on the position reported in July 2018, when it issued the second Section 114 notice, and an improvement of £3.5m on a provisional outturn report from May 2019.

Leader of the council Matt Golby said the figures represent a “remarkable achievement”.

“While the progress we have made as an organisation in terms of our financial situation is extraordinary, the position we were in was so grave that even with such progress our financial position remains extremely fragile,” he added.

The council said the underspend means the authority now has £39.8m in general and earmarked reserves.

In his Local Government Finance Settlement this year communities secretary James Brokenshire announced he would allow the authority to increase council tax by 5% this year – over the normal limit of 2.99%.

The reorganisation in Northamptonshire will mean its eight councils will be replaced by two unitary authorities, as recommended in a commissioner’s report from March 2018.

Pressed on plans to reorganise in the Commons yesterday, Theresa May said that secondary legislation on the move will be created “as soon as practical”.

Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South, said residents “need and deserve certainty that appropriate unitary order will be laid before parliament”.

May said: “Subject to parliamentary approval, of course, the new authorities will be a significant step towards ensuring that residents and businesses can in future have the sustainable, high-quality local services they deserve.

“Officials are working hard with the eight Northamptonshire councils on the detail of the secondary legislation, because that will need to include detail. Our aim is to lay the statutory instrument as soon as practical for parliamentary debate and approval.”

Brokenshire said in May this year that the two councils will be created by April 2021, with elections taking place in May 2020.

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