“A “bankrupt” Tory authority used a £9m fund meant for school improvements in a failed attempt to fill a growing financial black hole, it can be revealed.
Cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council spent the money to “mitigate” losses in an account used for general everyday spending in 2016, HuffPost UK has found.
The authority has been hit by one of the worst council cash crises in decades, after central government cuts coincided with surging demand for services.
The situation has prompted fears that Northants could become the first of a number of county councils to “fail” as financial pressures mount.
The £9m schools’ funding was meant to be set aside to pay for “future educational improvements within the county”.
It came from a so-called Section 106 (S106) obligation, which are placed on property firms to ensure new developments benefit the whole community.
But an independent review into Northamptonshire’s finances by government inspector Max Caller revealed the “one-off” payment of S106 money was transferred to the council’s general revenue account during the year 2016-17.
Auditors KPMG confirmed in an August 2017 report that the £9m came from funds meant for education improvements and that it was intended to be replaced “through council borrowing”.
County council officials this week declined to elaborate or provide further details. …”