ALMOST half a million pounds of the town hall’s reserves will be spent on senior management this year, finance bosses have forecasted.

Bury Council is expected to spend £493,000 from its reserves to fund senior management posts within the business, growth and infrastructure department.

Cabinet member for finance, Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, described this use of reserves on revenue costs as “not sustainable”.

This comes after the council announced earlier this year that it would spend more than £5m of its reserves to help balance the budget.

The local authority is currently forecasting an overspend of £467,000 for the year based on spending and income information from August.

But chief finance officer Mike Woodhead told the audit committee this week that the council will achieve its targets.

He said: “I’m confident we will balance the books for the year. I think we are on a clear trajectory of balancing the books.”

Mr Woodhead’s comments came after external auditors confirmed that they have signed off the council’s accounts for the financial year 2018/19 following months of delays.

Problems with the way the council valued its property were the reason behind a two-month delay in signing off the town hall’s accounts.

But external auditors Mazars said that these problems are being addressed and the accounts have been amended.

The council is in the process of pooling its resources together with the local health commissioner which is also facing financial difficulties.

Mr Woodhead, who is also responsible for the budget of Bury’s clinical commissioning group (CCG), said that so far the council has benefitted from a £1.5m boost from a transfer of funds.

He said: “There was an agreement for the CCG to bolster the council’s position. The main way that was done was by the CCG saying, ‘we normally have a £1.5m contingency from the Better Care fund. Council, you can have it for your budget this year.’”

But the health commissioner faces a multi-million-pound deficit in its own budget this year.

The CCG is currently reviewing how it can save more than £7m which it hopes will come into full effect next year.

Cllr O’Brien told the cabinet last week that the council must work with the health commissioner to manage pressures on NHS services.

He said: “What’s necessary is for the CCG to come up with a package of savings to meet that. This will be a test of the new role of the council and the CCG – how we can manage these pressures.”

Looking ahead to the next financial year, Cllr O’Brien said that the authority is expecting a £12m to £15m gap in its budget.

Mr Woodhead told the audit committee on Tuesday that the town hall would make sure that any savings proposals in the next council budget are “robust”.

He said that the local authority will learn from the last three-year budget, which comes to an end in April, and implement the best savings plans based on what has worked so far.