Northamptonshire Council Council: Grant bill may be £16m

Northamptonshire County Council's new headquarters.
Image caption The financially troubled council is currently being run by two government-appointed commissioners

A troubled council is facing a bigger bill over its use of ring-fenced public health money than previously thought.

Northamptonshire County Council has been under investigation over claims it spent the cash on other services.

An auditor's report has now revealed the figure was £16m - 60% more than previously reported.

A council spokesman said: "We have been working closely with Public Health England, providing evidence. We await the final outcome of the review."

It comes after the authority - dubbed "the worst run in the country" - voted for almost £40m in budget cuts.

It received more than £70m in funding from Public Health England over a two-year period, which was supposed to be used for specific purposes, such as health education and stop smoking services.

But, in an interview with the BBC earlier this year, former council leader Heather Smith conceded the money "may have been spent in adult social care".

She added: "It is debatable whether that was a public health need or not."

Image caption Former council leader Heather Smith resigned after a government report said the authority should be scrapped

In its interim audit report, KPMG said the council had rejected a recommendation that the way the public health grant money used should be independently checked.

It said: "This is clearly not acceptable to Public Health England as it is now challenging up to £16m of potential non-compliant spend."

The auditor warned the council it now faced having to repay the sum.

Northamptonshire County Council's turbulent 2018:

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