The cabinet member for finance at Northamptonshire County Council was ‘bowled over’ when told the Government had allowed it to spend £70million of ring-fenced money on tackling its deficit.
On Thursday the communities secretary announced he had given capital dispensation to the county council to use the funds in ‘new ways’.
It will see the authority use the monies - which are normally used for capital projects such as building and construction schemes - to wipe out £35million of the 17/18 deficit, replenish the 19/20 reserves by £20million, and with £15million for ‘contingency’ if there are any issues with the budget delivery.
The news, which followed a request by the government-appointed commissioners, was a welcome intervention by Westminster for county council leaders.
Councillor Malcolm Longley, the cabinet member for finance, said: “I was bowled over when I heard about it. It’s not because of the money that I was pleased, but for the vote of confidence from the Government.”
And council leader Matt Golby added: “The £70million is a vote of confidence from the government. But if we had not got it we would have had to take it out of the budget and act accordingly.
“I’m confident that this organisation has turned the corner. We are transforming our services and offering better value for money.
“This budget feels much different to last year and I want to recognise the work of Theresa Grant and all the officers who have worked very hard on this.”