'Incredible progress' made with finances says Northamptonshire County Council leader

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The leader of Northamptonshire County Council says the authority has made ‘incredible progress’ with its finances.

Two years ago at the start of February, the council had to ban all but non-legal spending as its budget nosedived following years of unsustainable financial decision making.

A result of that has meant that the county council will be abolished in 2021 following a government review, but the finances appear to have taken a turn for the better towards the end of its existence, with the council predicting it will underspend by £29,000 for 2019/20.

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It’s a far cry from two years ago, when the overspend stood at £41 million, says council leader Matt Golby.

Council leader Matt Golby says the authority has come a long wayCouncil leader Matt Golby says the authority has come a long way
Council leader Matt Golby says the authority has come a long way | jpimedia

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s quite remarkable. Two years ago the wheels really did come off, so I’m very encouraged by it. Given where we were, it’s almost to the week two years ago that we issued the 114 notice, I would say we’ve made an incredible amount of progress.

“There’s still work to do as obviously we’ve not finished for this year, but we remain totally focussed on finishing the finances for this year and agreeing a balanced budget for next year. It’s a big milestone in that we’ve honoured the commitment of doing everything we could to sort things out.”

The council leader also said it would ensure the authority could end its final year of existence - before it is replaced by two unitary authorities - with a 'clean slate’.

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Cabinet members yesterday (February 11) endorsed budget proposals for 2020/21. While it balances the books, it still contains £23 million of cuts.

It includes spending £3.5 million on implementing a new ‘target operating model’ in adult social services that would make the department more efficient and save the council between £15 million to £25 million each year.

But the decision to award that delivery model to a company with links to lead finance commissioner Tony McArdle has raised eyebrows.

More visible cuts in the 20/21 budget include the closure of the Evelyn Wright care home in Daventry, and cuts in the number of routes in home to school transport for disadvantaged children.

A vote on the budget, involving all councillors, is expected to take place next Thursday (February 20).