Northampton

Northampton Borough Council undervalued homes by £86m

Northampton Guildhall
Image caption The audit of Northampton Borough Council's 2016-17 accounts was 'significantly delayed'

A council miscalculated the value of its housing stock by more than £86m, according to a delayed audit report.

Northampton Borough Council (NBC) said the error in its 2016-17 accounts had not affected its financial stability.

Auditor KPMG said the issue had "significantly delayed" its report, which ended up more than a year late.

Police are currently investigating a £10.25m loan made by the council to Northampton Town Football Club to redevelop its stadium in 2013.

In its audit report KPMG said the wrong social housing discount factor, which adjusts figures to take into account the lower commercial value of social properties, had been used by the accounting team.

All public bodies are required to submit annual financial accounts to be audited by local inspectors - in this case KPMG.

The audit was completed more than a year late and its cost rose from an initial prediction of £80,000 to between £300,000 and £400,000.

Council cabinet member for finance Brandon Eldred said he was pleased the authority had reached the end of the "protracted" audit process.

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Image caption Police are investigating a £10.25m loan made by the council to Northampton Town Football Club

He said: "It is important for the residents and businesses to know that this delay in finalising our accounts is around technical accounting and presentation issues, not the financial stability of, or financial controls within the council."

Mr Eldred added staff turnover had caused delays to the audit but that lessons had been learned from the experience - though the council refused to say what those lessons were.

Last week the council won a high court case against former Northampton Town owner Anthony Cardoza to recoup £2.1m of the loan, which was agreed to go towards the stalled stadium project.

His son, and former club chairman, David Cardoza has also been ordered to repay money he used to rebuild his house.

Northamptonshire Police is investigating where most of the loan money, which remains unaccounted for, went.

In 2014, the council was criticised for selling a 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue, earning it £8m to help fund an extension to its museum and art gallery. As a result of the sale, Northampton Museum was stripped of its accreditation by Arts Council England, which left it ineligible for a range of grants and funding.

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