'Too early to say whether Government coronavirus cash is enough' say Northants councils

And reports wont be made available to the public for at least another month

Councils are expecting a drop in income because of the pandemic.
Councils are expecting a drop in income because of the pandemic.

Borough councils in North Northamptonshire say it is too early to say whether Government funding to deal with the pandemic services will be enough.

And it will be at least next month before Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough councils provide the public with details of how they have been spending the funds.

Out of the £3.2bn tranche of funding given to local authorities, Corby has received £761,552, Kettering was allocated £1,068,536, East Northants received £993,413 and Wellingborough £840,166.

So far only East Northants has publicly reported the state of play – via a virtual meeting – at which the council’s finance boss Glenn Hammons saying the biggest impact on finances is expected to be a plummet in income from commercial services.

Northamptonshire County Council said earlier this month that it was predicting a shortfall of between £14m and £27m.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service approached each of the councils to ask them the cost effect of the pandemic on their authority as estimated by their chief finance officers; whether they had considered implementing a section 114 notice that would ban all but legal required spending – as the county council had to do twice in 2018; and when it was likely to produce a public report on the matter.

A Kettering Borough Council spokesman: “The council’s Executive Committee receives budget monitoring reports at each of its meetings. Arrangements are being considered to facilitate a virtual Executive Committee meeting in June, the latest budget monitoring information is likely to be considered at that meeting.”

But leader of the KBC opposition Mick Scrimshaw, says more transparency is needed.

He said: “If the executive committee is not going to meet, the council should at least put out a public report. I know that the council has been given money, almost £1m by the government, but I have no idea what it is spending it on.

I think this reluctance by some councils to say what is happening is part of a culture and they forget they are working for the community. It is not enough to say, ‘trust us, we are looking after your interests’. They need to be open and honest and if local authorities don’t tell people they will make up their own stories, as we are seeing on social media platforms’.

Corby Council will be the last of the four councils in North Northamptonshire to report back to the public.

A spokesman said: “The council is continuing to assess and quantify the financial consequences of the coronavirus and continues to work with the Government who have provided additional funding towards our local response to the pandemic but it is too early to say if this will cover what is needed to support our costs and lost income during this emerging situation. At this time the council does not envisage issuing a 114 notice in the foreseeable future. A detailed update of the financial position for 2020/21 will be presented to the One Corby Policy Committee in July.”

And Wellingborough Council says the numbers on the balance sheet will be revealed at the end of next month.

A spokesman said: “The Borough Council of Wellingborough is assessing the financial consequences COVID-19 has had on its services and is working with the Government who have provided additional funding towards our local response to the pandemic but it is too early to say if this will cover what is needed to support Wellingborough during this emerging situation. At this time the council does not envisage issuing a 114 notice in the foreseeable future. A detailed update of the financial position for 2020/21 will be presented to the resources committee as planned for 24 June.”