With less than three weeks to go until the end of the financial year the Northamptonshire county councillor in charge of finance says he is ‘greatly encouraged’ that the authority will balance its books.
Following last year’s £40m overspend all eyes are on the county authority to see whether it can end the year with its financial outgoings less than its incomings and now usually cautious Cllr Malcolm Longley is sounding optimistic.
The council, which is being overseen by two government appointed officials and new chief executive Theresa Grant, is currently predicting a £900,000 overspend- although the figures are expected to move.
Speaking at yesterday’s cabinet meeting Cllr Longley, who moved into the finance hotseat last summer, said: “Current year end outlook is just a little short of £1m negative,
“We are only three weeks away from year end so we are now very much a lot of clearing up and make sure we get things in good order.
“Expect not to move too much from there but if it does I’m hoping it will go marginally in the right direction.”
In the summer the authority was facing a predicted overspend of £64m for the 18/19 financial year. In November central government allowed the council a £70m capital dispensation, which meant it could use funds from the sale of assets to plug its revenue gap. The sale of its headquarters, which was brought by Canada Life for £64m last summer, has largely funded the gap . The authority also put £20m back into reserves.
Council leader Matt Golby paid tribute to the work of staff in getting the authority on a more stable financial footing.
He said: “Getting anywhere near a balanced budget has been an incredible challenge. It’s down to the hard work, graft and toil of the officers and staff.
“We have still got a bit of a way to go and still two periods to report on, that variance may go up and it may go down. We need to remember that July we were at £64.2m. It is an incredible achievement.”
The 2017/18 budget has not yet been signed off by auditors. This is expected to happen in April.