New police boss could end first year with £3.1m financial black hole

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold

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Northamptonshire Police are set to overspend on this year’s budget by a huge £3.1m.

Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold will today (Tuesday) explain to members of the county police and crime panel why the force is forecast to bust its budget for the 2016/17 fiscal year - his first in charge of Northants Police.

The force itself is predicted to overspend by £3.1m and the Office of the PCC will spend an extra £45,000 over its own budget, despite Mr Mold cutting a number of top jobs to try to balance the books.

Some of the overspend – about £697,000 – wasplanned into the budget, but there is still a £2.404m black hole which will have to be paid for from cash reserves which currently stand at about £10m.

In his county hall meeting with councillors and other independent panel members, Mr Mold will provide details of the overspend which includes:

- £100,000 spent on finding an external provider for the police pensions fund.

- £200,000 spent on unexpected staffing costs in the force control room.

- an extra £500,000 needed to provide breathalysers, mobile speed cameras and to plug a potential VAT gap for the Safer Roads Team.

- £1.8m spent on support departments which wasn’t planned. The departments were asked to save £1.757m but were unable to do so.

- collaboration with other forces costing an extra £600,000.

The force is already committed to a £60m building programme which includes the new northern headquarters off the A43 in Kettering which are already under construction.

It will also have to find room for staff moving out of its Wootton Hall HQ, which is due to shut.

If this total increases, it will mean the force will exceed its recommended borrowing limit as all of its current finance is being used.

Mr Mold said: “Policing is facing a period of sustained financial pressure and although we have financial reserves to cover any projected overspend, it is our priority to work with Northamptonshire Police to deliver a new service delivery model that ensures we are more efficient in our work and therefore spending.

“We are working with Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire on a tri-force collaboration to develop shared back-office functions and deliver more efficient and effective service through the use of technology, while we have just appointed a new director for technology and digital transformation and director for early intervention who will help the force to deliver savings in the long term.”

Acting finance director Steve Dainty has written the report to the panel.

In it, he says: “When the budget for 2016/17 was constructed the force had a savings requirement of £7.267m but only managed to identify £5.510m, leaving a balance of £1.757m still to find.

“It was assumed at the time that the Service Delivery Model, which is reviewing the workforce model, would deliver a substantial proportion of this gap.

“Unfortunately, currently, this has not been the case and the gap has now risen to £2.403m.

“Work is currently under way by the force to reduce this overspend and it is anticipated that this forecast will reduce as the year progresses.

“Any remaining balance will be funded from the capital/ transformation reserve.”