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Claims more could follow Northants refuted by ministry

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Claims more councils could follow Northamptonshire CC in issuing section 114 notices within the next three years “are not consistent” with information given to government, the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government has told LGC.

LGC reported previously how the chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy Rob Whiteman warned potentially up to “half a dozen” councils could be within a year of facing the same scenario as Northamptonshire CC if they continue to use reserves to prop up services and not deliver the savings they need, with other councils to subsequently follow.

In response, a MHCLG spokesman said: “These claims are not consistent with our discussions with councils during the consultation on the provisional finance settlement.

“We are delivering a funding settlement that will see a real term increase in resources over the next two years, more freedom and fairness and with a greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.

“We are also delivering on our commitment to give councils more control over the business rates they raise locally – with millions of pounds staying in communities and being spent on local priorities.”

Of the 251 local authority chief executives, directors, and managers LGC surveyed in September, only 52% said they were confident of realising all of the savings their council had planned for 2017-18. When LGC asked officers this question around the same time the previous year, three-quarters (75%) were confident about meeting their in-year savings targets.

The survey results also showed that 44% believe their council will suffer a financial crisis within the next three years that will mean they are unable to provide the statutory minimum levels of service required. That was a slight increase on the 42% who thought that a year beforehand.

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