Public interest report to lift lid on what led to Northamptonshire County Council's financial crash

The financial meltdown of the council in April last year made world headlines and is still being dealt with now.
The financial meltdown of the council in April last year made world headlines and is still being dealt with now.

A public interest report looking into what exactly went wrong at Northamptonshire County Council will take place, so that other local authorities can learn from the mistakes made.

The financially strapped authority will have to cover the cost of the report, which will look into the 2017/18 financial year, when the council failed to balance it books and overspent by £35m.

It should lift the lid on decisions that were taken by the authority, its ruling Conservative cabinet and officers in the run-up to the meltdown which made headlines across the world.

KPMG, which audited the 2017/18 accounts – which are almost ready for official sign off – had been pondering whether a public interest report could be afforded by the council, in light of its current financial frailty, but has decided the report must go ahead.

It is expected to cost the council in the region of £100,000.

Speaking at the audit committee meeting earlier held at county hall in Northampton yesterday (Sept 26) chief auditor Andrew Cardoza said: “We will carry a public interest report in terms of how we got here as an authority from where it was in terms of the overspend, etc. And that’s a useful piece of information that brings in all of the history of where it was, where it is. There is a learning piece there for other organisations.”

Mr Cardoza, whose team will be compiling the report, said he hoped to have it completed and published within six months.

Chair of the audit committee Bill Jessup urged that it was finished as soon as possible so that any lessons can be learned quickly.

This is the last involvement KPMG will have with the council, as Ernst and Young has now been appointed as the council’s auditors.

Public interest reports are relatively rare, with the last public interest report in the county taking place in 2013 and looked at Corby Council's mismanagement of some high profile projects including Corby Cube.