Cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council should be scrapped, according to a report from a government inspector.
In January, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid ordered an independent inspection of the authority.
The report recommends “a new start” in Northamptonshire, which is “best achieved by the creation of two new unitary councils”.
The council has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Inspector Max Caller said government commissioners should be sent in to the authority.
He added that “living within budget constraints is not part of the culture” of the council.
The report said its findings are “very serious” for the authority and its residents.
Mr Caller said Northamptonshire should have two new unitary authorities by 2020, one covering Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire and the other covering Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.
That would mean the county council would cease to exist.
In October, the council launched a campaign for fairer funding from central government.
However, the report said the authority had not been “particularly badly treated by the funding formula”.
The report was also critical of the council’s ‘Next Generation Model,’ which planned to outsource all services and create four new bodies for child protection, care of vulnerable adults, providing health and well-being services, and improving the county.
The report said the model did not have “any documented underpinning” of how it intended to deliver £68m of savings, and “served to obscure and prevent effective” budgetary control.
Northamptonshire County Council’s financial crisis timeline:
- September 2017: The council launches an appeal for fairer funding from central government as a Local Government Association (LGA) peer review group says it is “running out of time”
- November 2017: Council staff are told they must take a day’s unpaid leave
- January: Secretary of State for local government, Sajid Javid, orders a probe into the council’s finances
- 2 February: The council bans almost all new spending for 2017/18.
- 20 February: Auditor KPMG says the council’s 2018/19 budget may be unlawful
- 28 February: The council agrees a revised budget, involving nearly £40m in cuts
- 15 March: Inspector Max Caller outlines his findings – recommending Northamptonshire should have two new unitary authorities by 2020