Auditors Concerned Over ‘Realism’ Of Council’s Future Budgets
The report, written by auditors from Grant Thornton was presented at last week’s Full Council meeting.
The auditors say the Council’s systems of governance, risk management and operation in 2014/15 were “generally weak” with “considerable room for improvement in many areas.”
And they say even though these issues were raised last year, the majority of the recommendations have still not been addressed.
Earlier this year saw the departure of the Council’s Senior Finance Manager, Laura Roberts, after just seven months in the job.
And at the recent Finance, Audit and Scrutiny Committee meeting, newly appointed Senior Finance Manager Ben Barrett said his department was understaffed and there were continuing problems recruiting into two vacant positions
The auditors raised concerns over the ‘realism’ of predicted budgets produced by the Authority for the next three years, which show a 1% increase in Council Tax each year while government funding remains at the same level.
They say the Local Government Association anticipates a cut of 40% to core government funding over the life of the current parliament.
And they say the Council has not been able to provide any evidence to support its view that it will be protected from these cuts.
Auditors corrected a number of errors made in the official 2014/15 accounts, which were passed by councillors in April.
These included incorrect pension and remuneration details for the senior management team and misstatement of claims made by former employees for untaken leave.
Under their ‘Value for Money’ section, the auditors also highlighted a large discrepancy in what the Council planned to use from its cash reserves and what it actually spent.
At the end of March 2014, the accounts showed the reserves stood at £2.02m with no plans to draw on that money.
During last year, councillors approved spending of £900,000 on resurfacing the roads. But budget overspends meant a further £255,000 had to come from reserves. That’s left the Council with just £865,000 in their savings account.
Although passenger numbers were up at the Airport last year, it still made a trading loss of £179,000.
The Water and Sewerage account also showed a loss of £45,000.