Small underspend predicted in Northumberland County Council budgets following use of reserves

Northumberland County Councils headquarters at County Hall in Morpeth
Northumberland County Councils headquarters at County Hall in Morpeth -Credit:Northumberland County Council

The latest projections from Northumberland County Council predict a small underspend on its annual budget.

The figures, made up to the end of February, suggest there will be a net underspend of £143,000 following the use of cash from two reserve pots. The council will transfer £2 million from the Business Recovery Reserve and just over £1 million from the Exceptional Inflation Reserve.

Without these transfers, the local authority would have been facing a £2.874 million overspend. However, as late as December figures suggested the council would overspend by more than half a million pounds.

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Speaking at Tuesday's cabinet meeting, deputy leader Coun Richard Wearmouth said the council had strong financial management.

He said: "Northumberland is in very good financial health, unlike a lot of other councils. It means we can do all the things we want to do like investment in our services like leisure centres and schools, none of which could happen if we didn't have sound financial management.

"All around the North East, you will see councils running into difficulties, having to strip out services and make some really difficult decisions. We are not having to make those because this is such a well-run council."

Council leader Glen Sanderson doubled down on the praise.

He added: "You can't deliver our three key priorities - tackling inequalities, driving investment and jobs and providing value for money - if you don't have the quality and passion of the staff, the dedication and ambition of the administration and, most of all, if you don't have the money to deliver what you want to deliver.

"We're continuing to deliver on our priorities because that is important. We can't do it without that strong financial base."

Speaking in March, the council's chief financial officer Jan Willis said the council's financial position would be reviewed on a month-by-month basis following the projected overspend at the end of last year. At that time, she blamed the overspends on on children's residential placements and the SEND transport budget.