Northampton

Sajid Javid orders probe into county council's finances

Northants County Council
Image caption The government has ordered a review into the county council's finances

Allegations of financial failings at Northamptonshire County Council are to be investigated by the government.

The announcement was made by the new Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid.

He said his decision to appoint an independent inspector was "not taken lightly".

Council leader Heather Smith welcomed the news and said the authority had always been "open and transparent".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The new Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid

The Conservative-led council revealed in December that it was looking to increase council tax by almost 5% as it sought to make savings of £34.3m.

At the time, council leaders claimed they were facing huge demand for services, as well as cuts in government grants.

Mr Javid has commissioned an independent inspection to better understand whether the authority is complying with its legal requirements over value for money.

"My decision to appoint an inspector 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," he said.

Image caption Heather Smith said the council received "significantly less" in government funds than other authorities and this had been made known to Whitehall

Council leader Mrs Smith welcomed the review, saying: "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.

"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."

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