Audit, Inspection and Safety

11.01.18

Northamptonshire council finances to be investigated by DCLG

Communities and housing secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed he will be appointing an inspector to carry out an investigation into Northamptonshire CC because of fears it is not meeting its “best value duty.”

The council has been shrouded in controversy recently after one of its affiliated authorities, Daventry District Council, suggested the government should intervene in the county to ensure it can deliver savings and avoid insolvency.

In a statement this week, Javid announced that he had asked former Hackney LBC CEO Max Caller to carry out an inspection of Northamptonshire’s compliance with its best value duty.

The secretary said he had become concerned after reports from the LGA and private auditor KPMG suggested the council may be “failing to comply” with its responsibilities.

Javid went on to say: “This decision is not taken lightly. I hope it sends a strong signal that robust processes are in place to investigate allegations of failures in financial management and governance in local government.”

In particular, he said the initial investigations would revolve around Northamptonshire’s corporate governance and financial management systems, with findings expected to be reported by 16 March this year unless other circumstances are agreed.

Leader of the council, Cllr Heather Smith, said she welcomed the announcement of review.

“We have been very clear with senior government ministers and civil servants about the issues facing the county and the growing financial pressures we are facing,” she said. “This announcement means they will be coming to the county to assess the situation for themselves and be able to see how we have continued to deliver public services in an ever-challenging financial context.

“We have been fully open and transparent with the government about our situation and have been direct in our request for assistance.

“We have also been clear that our proposed funding settlement from them includes no recognition of the pressures we face with the escalating cost of, and demand for, adult social care and children’s services respectively.”

Javid added, that if the council is in breach of its duty then the government will exercise its powers to intervene in the county.

Top image: yevtony

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Comments

Dee   13/01/2018 at 10:56

So Sajid Javid is going to send in the heavy mob to look at "Best Value". This investigation may rather find that Northamptonshire is not going to be able to set a balanced budget and meet its statutory responsibilities with or without "Best Value". If you don't have enough money you don't have enough money and since it is not possible to raise sufficient funding to cover the shortfall locally, then all that this expensive exercise will prove is that Central Government is simply not interested in local services and providing sufficient funding for democratically elected councils to provide them. RIP Localism.

H   13/01/2018 at 22:15

Northamptonshire County Council has been headed this way for a long time. Former staff will bear this out. Mismanagement on a vast scale, and now coupled with budget cuts which are not sustainable. And where is the ability to retain business rates? These were the hook upon which the cuts were hung. Government needs to look at itself as much as LAs.

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