Author: Mick Scrimshaw

Open letter to all of Northamptonsire’s MPs

The recent financial problems at the County Council have highlighted several issuers regarding their finances. One of which is the long-term commitments to expensive payments for PFI contracts. I have no intention of starting a debate about whether these contracts were a good thing or which political party holds the most responsibility because the truth is that these expensive contracts are crippling local councils and other public sector bodies. Only last month the National Audit Office issued a report saying these contracts were upwards of 40% more expensive than other funding mechanisms. One of the difficulties for council has...

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What is a PFI and why are they bad for Local Government?

What is a PFI Contract? A “Private Finance Initiative” (PFI) is a method of providing funding for major capital investments such as schools, care homes, hospitals, etc. They have been used to give the appearance of reducing public-sector borrowing because instead of borrowing directly from the Government through the Public Works Loan Board, local councils and other bodies do not need to finance the projects themselves. This keeps the borrowing off of the government’s books. They allow the private sector to put up the capital investment themselves and then the Government or council will pay back those private companies...

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Northants County Council’s high level of borrowing using “LOBO Loans” and the problems it creates

There has been a lot of social media commentary about the County Council’s high level of borrowing since they effectively declared themselves bankrupt. In particular about their reliance on what are known as “LOBO loans” which have rightly come in for criticism. Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) currently has £609m worth of outstanding borrowing of which £150m is through LOBOs. Lender Option Borrower Option or “LOBO loans” are long-term loans from the private financial markets specifically aimed at Councils. It used to be that Councils did pretty much all of their borrowing from the Government’s Public Works Loan Board (PWLB)...

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Northamptonshire County Council and the financial mess that they are in

After years of financial mismanagement and problems, Northamptonshire County Council have effectively declared themselves bankrupt! The new Section 151 Officer (Finance Director) at the council has issued a 114 Notice. This is the legal process he has to go through to announce that the County Council can no longer pay its way and cannot continue financially as they are likely to not be able to balance this year’s budget as they are legally required to do. This is the first time any council anywhere has felt the need to do this in about twenty years! An emergency debate at...

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Letter to Secretary of State Sajid Javid about Northants County Council from Labour’s local Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

Dear Sajid Javid, Re: Northamptonshire County Council We are writing to express our deepest concern about the impact on people in Northamptonshire of the continuing incompetence in the financial management and political leadership of the County Council. We believe that the Government must act to protect the best interests of the many hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the county council’s services. The level of intervention needed now goes beyond the financial investigation currently taking place, and requires that commissioners are sent in to take over from the County’s Conservative administration which has so dramatically failed. The...

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