Northumberland County Council delays £36million of spending until next year
More than £36million of capital spending by Northumberland County Council has been pushed back into next year.
The authority’s cabinet has agreed to shift £46.6million of investment in schools, transport and other infrastructure from 2019-20 into 2020-21, but £10.4million on other projects is to be moved the other way.
This will result in a net ‘re-profiling’ of £36.2million into the next financial year from what was agreed when the council’s medium-term financial plan was signed off in February.
Coun Nick Oliver, cabinet member for corporate services, said this will still result in capital spending of £150million this financial year - the most ambitious programme the authority has had.
This decision came as part of a financial performance update for the local authority, covering the position up to the end of July, which was presented at the cabinet meeting on September 17.
In the council’s day-to-day revenue budget, the current prediction for the 2019-20 financial year is a £1.8million overspend.
Coun Oliver told the meeting this ‘should not be a cause for alarm’, as this time last year the predicted overspend was more than £2million, but the final position in March this year was a significant underspend – more than £11million.
“We should not be complacent,” he added. “But I’m optimistic and confident we will deliver what we need to by the year end.”
The main areas of pressure are in adult and children’s services, which are predicting overspends of £1.4million and £2.5million respectively.
Coun Oliver said that this was not a surprise and reflected the national picture, emphasising that work was taking place to deal with it.
“There are significant pressures, but they are under control,” he added.
Another area of overspend is on IT equipment, with the council making one-off investments in new computer contracts and software.
Coun Oliver also highlighted the predicted underspend of £800,000 in the home-to-school transport budget, where despite the administration reintroducing free travel for post-16 students, these pupils were ‘largely accommodated through existing school transport network arrangements at minimal additional cost’.
He also mentioned the forecast build-up in the Housing Revenue Account, which can be used to support the council’s pledge to deliver 1,000 extra affordable homes to rent across the county.