Delays in Northamptonshire County Council publishing this year's account

editorial image

Northamptonshire County Council has had to delay publishing this year’s financial accounts because last year’s have still not been officially signed off.

The final audit of the ill-fated 2017/18 accounts, which put the council into the national headlines, are still to be approved by auditors which means that the council cannot publish its 2018-19 accounts.

The council’s chief finance officer Ian Duncan has put up a holding notice on the authority’s website.

It says: “Notice is given that the draft statement of accounts for Northamptonshire County Council for the year ended 31 March 2019 have not yet been certified for publication.

“Work continues to finalise the 2017/18 accounts which have remained open alongside the production the 2018/19 accounts.

“The council will therefore publish the 2018/19 statement of accounts as soon as possible and will extend the inspection period to ensure the requisite number of days are allowed for after the publication of draft accounts.”

Auditors KPMG will give a verbal update to the council’s audit committee next Tuesday (June 18).

The authority had overspent in 2017/2018 by roughly £41.5m – with the final figure to be confirmed by auditors. However, the authority was given exceptional circumstances by the government for a special capital dispensation which allowed it to use funds from the sale of Northampton Headquarters One Angel Square to plug the gap.

For the latest 2018/19 accounts the authority, which has been run by government appointed commissioners since last May and has a new chief executive, has said that it has balanced its books and underspent by £1m. However, the latest finance report from the authority issued last month says that the finances of the authority – which will be scrapped in 2021 and replaced by two new Northamptonshire unitaries – are still extremely fragile.

But the public will not be able to view these latest accounts until the 2017/18 audit is complete. This is expected to happen next month.

The council’s new auditor Ernst and Young will then start its audit.