Wellingborough Council predicts it will balance budget for first time in decade without using general reserves

Wellingborough Council is predicting it won’t have to dip into its reserves for the first time in 10 years to help balance its budget.

By Sarah Ward
Monday, 23rd December 2019, 3:17 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 3:18 pm
The council thinks it will balance its  budget in April without using any general reserves.
The council thinks it will balance its budget in April without using any general reserves.

For the past decade the borough council has been having to use its reserves to ensure its books have balanced at the end of the financial year.

However forecasts by the council’s chief finance officer Shaun Darcy – who joined the authority in January- now predict that the authority will reach April 2020 not having to use the reserves as a financial fallback.

When the 19/20 budget was originally set the authority was proposing to use £438,000 of reserves and a further £729,000 of earmarked reserves. Now it says it will use £625,000 of earmarked reserves leaving its general reserves balance at £3.15m. The council spends around £10m per year providing services.

Speaking at the resources committee last week Mr Darcy said: “This will be the first time since 2008/09 that we have set a balanced budget with no reserves used. That is a good feat.”

The authority is now predicting a £542,000 underspend on its £10.6m budget. The authority is spending £183,000 less on benefit subsidy than it had predicted, saving £59,000 in its environmental services department and spending £68,000 less on its property services.

The new state of financial affairs comes after the council’s auditors had been highly critical this summer of the way the authority, which is led by managing director Liz Elliott, had been forecasting its finances and said urgent action was needed.

The council has also outlined a £300,000 pot for voluntary groups in the next financial year.

The authority has also out together its draft budget for 20/21 and has a statutory duty to consult the public on the plan. Details will be available on the council website in the coming days.