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Northants’ auditors raise concerns over Paul Blantern’s payout

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Auditors are to review exit payments made to former Northamptonshire CC chief executive Paul Blantern as well as any other staff who have left the local authority in the last year.

As part of its financial audit, KPMG will review whether the payments made to Mr Blantern, and others, delivered “value for money”.

Mr Blantern received a £95,000 pay-off, in addition to his salary and other benefits, upon leaving the council in October 2017, a freedom of information request from the BBC revealed.

KPMG said in its audit plan that it would review this payment due to a “risk that the terms and conditions of the departure, including any exit package, did not provide value for money to the authority.”

The auditor said it will also review the documentation and conditions that surrounded Mr Blantern’s exit, to ensure that “appropriate” procedures were followed.

“As part of our standard audit approach, we will also review exit packages for other staff leaving the authority in the year, including those made through redundancy or early retirement,” KPMG said in its plan.

“We will also review the disclosures and related narrative provided in the financial statements by the authority in order to ensure they are appropriate and compliant with guidance.”

KPMG reported in its audit letter for 2016-17 that the council had “failed to secure value for money” under Mr Blantern’s management and did not qualify its accounts.

KPMG said in the 2017 audit letter: “We are not satisfied that during the year the authority had proper arrangements in place to take informed decisions and deploy its resources to achieve planned and sustainable outcomes for taxpayers and local people.”

Government inspector Max Caller published a highly critical report of Northamptonshire CC’s management in March, saying the council and its management had “failed to comply” with its best value duty under the Local Government Act 1999.

The report followed the council’s decision to issue a section 114 notice in February - the first in almost 20 years - forbidding any future expenditure.

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