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Northants settles £8m public health dispute after 'misspending' row

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Northamptonshire CC has reached a deal with Public Health England (PHE) over the misspending of a grant it gave to the council.

The county has agreed to reinvest just over £8m in public health out of an originally disputed £16m, which had been spent mainly on social care and children’s services instead of public health work.

Auditor KPMG’s external audit interim report, issued in May, said: “During our audit in the previous year, we identified various transactions which did not appear to be in line with the conditions of the [public health] grant despite having been signed off within the preliminary statement of assurance on 19 May 2017 by the former section 151 officer and the former acting director of public health.”

KPMG went on to say it understood that PHE was challenging up to £16m of potential non-compliant spend, of which £3m was spent in 2017-18.

A report to Northamptonshire’s cabinet earlier this month showed a lower figure was at that point still disputed, concerning up to £3m for 2017-18 and up to £7.3m from previous years.

A Northamptonshire spokesman said: “Following extensive discussions with PHE, we have reached an agreement regarding £8.038m of public health grant funding historically spent on public services, including adult social care and children’s services, that did not comply with grant conditions.

“We are currently confirming arrangements with PHE as to how NCC will reinvest this money in public health services for the benefit of the people of Northamptonshire.”

The council had government commissioners sent in to run it after a damning inspector’s report in January. It this week began a public consultation on unitary reorganisation of the county’s councils and having moved headquarters to the One Angel Square building earlier this month agreed to sell its redundant county hall.

 

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Dear Public Health England .... you'll find every upper tier authority in England is doing exactly the same !

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