Cash reserves doubled at North Lincolnshire Council
CASH reserves at North Lincolnshire Council almost doubled between the 2007/08 and 2011/12 financial years – but council bosses now want to spend more of this money.
The authority had a total of £16,124,000 set aside in its reserves on April 1, 2007 and £30,621,000 on the same date in 2011.
The data was published by the Government's Department for Communities and Local Government, along with figures for local authorities across England.
It was used by the Audit Commission in its Striking A Balance report, which urged councils to focus more attention on cash set aside in reserves.
Councillor Liz Redfern, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said reserve levels were increased to make provisions for Building Schools for the Future projects and the council's waste management contract.
But she said the authority would now look to use some of its reserves to protect frontline services.
She said: "It is not acceptable for local government to have such high levels of reserves.
"It is budgeted that we will go into our reserves to protect frontline services.
"It is forecast for reserves to go down."
Councillor Len Foster, deputy leader of the authority's opposition Labour group said: "It is important that councils find an acceptable balance when dealing with public money.
"This means ensuring there are enough monies in balances to cover any unforeseen circumstances that may occur and investing in public services for which the taxpayer has been levied.
"Recent issues such as the unprecedented flooding and the severe winter of 2010 are prime examples of legitimate reasons for having appropriate, useable reserves on hand.
"Hopefully all professional advice is sought and accordingly taken into account when setting council budgets."
The Audit Commission report revealed English councils hold a total of £12.9 billion in their reserves.
Jeremy Newman, chairman of the commission, said: "Reserves are a vital element of good financial management for any council, especially at a time of financial uncertainty.