Northamptonshire County Council audit expected to cost an extra £300,000

The sale of One Angel Square has helped the council balance its budget in 2017/18.
The sale of One Angel Square has helped the council balance its budget in 2017/18.

Northamptonshire County Council’s much delayed audit is expected to cost an extra £300,000.

Work is still being done by external auditors KMPG on the 2017/18 accounts in which the authority overspent by £35.3m.

The authority’s chief finance officer Andy Duncan has said the report won’t be ready to be viewed by the council’s audit committee until early March.

The audit will reveal the final situation for the 2017/18 financial year. The additional £300k cost is on top of the £253,000 paid by the authority to KPMG according to its draft accounts.

Chairman of the council’s scrutiny committee Labour’s Cllr Mick Scrimshaw said the news was disappointing.

He said: “I’m not surprised the audit has been so delayed as the auditors clearly had a lot of work to do as there were so many issues with the council’s finances.

“It is really disappointing that the financial mismanagement has led to further financial expense.

“This means that we will not know the true position for 2017/18 until after we have set the budget for 2019/20.”

The authority has had to make a number of savings this year across a range of services to get itself on the path to balancing its books this coming April.

It has not been restocking its libraries with new books and this winter it will cut back on gritting 400km of its road network.

The audit was supposed to be ready for final sign-off during the summer. Since then it has been delayed a number of times and auditors KPMG have said they have been held up in their work due to waiting for information from the authority.

The two commissioners who have been appointed by central government to oversee the county council until it is replaced with a unitary council, also appointed their own team from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to analyse the 2017/18 accounts.

In November central government gave the authority a £70m capital dispensation which has allowed it to use £35m of the sale proceeds from headquarters One Angel Square in Northampton to settle the 2017/18 overspend.

Another £20m has been put into reserves and the remainder will be allocated to capital projects.