Finally! Northamptonshire County Council 2017/18 accounts signed off with £40m deficit

The accounts of the financial year when Northamptonshire County Council collapsed have finally been signed off.

The 2017/18 accounts have finally been signed off.
The 2017/18 accounts have finally been signed off.

More than a year later than expected, auditors KPMG have this week given the authority the sign off of its accounts of the year in which overspent by £41.4m.

Mis-spending of 106 monies from developers, using capital receipts wrongly to pay for running costs, a dispute over the value of headquarters of One Angel Square – which the authoritiy sold off last spring, and which has helped bail out the authority – all led to the extra time to sign off the accounts.

Speaking at the audit committee meeting this morning NCC’s chief finance officer Barry Scarr said the auditors had given an adverse opinion and had still to give a certificate of completion.

The final cost of the audit has not as yet been made public. In July the bill was £693,000 however the cost has increased signficantly since then.

It is also now undecided whether a public interest report into the 2017/18 financial year will go ahead. At the previous audit meeting in September KPMG chief auditor Andrew Cardoza said a public interest report would be prepared – at a financial cost to NCC – but at today’s meeting it Barry Scarr said KMPG was still considering whether to publish a public interest report.

The sign off means that new external auditors Ernst & Young can now get on with auditing the 18/19 accounts – which should have been signed off in September.

The company already has a backlog of audits across the country after being given a large government contract but not having enough staff to do the work.

Steve Young said the plan for the 18/19 accounts was to firstly focus on the pensions accounts as this had an impact on the county’s district and borough council’s being able to sign off their accounts. He told the audit committee: “It is highly unrealistic that you will be on track to get accounts signed off by July.”

Asked by audit committee member Cllr Cecille Irving Swift if NCC could be put to the front of the queue because of its unique situation Mr Clark said that could not happen and the contract was to deliver a quality audit rather than an audit on time. He said by February his team would have a detailed timeline and a good idea of the key issues.