THE Council has not yet signed off the accounts for 16/17 and they cannot be audited until a later date.
The Council understands this is a serious failure to meet good accounting and control standards. It is currently reorganising the finance team and has appointed a highly regarded interim manager to help turn this performance around. Staff in the finance team have worked very hard to resolve these matters and have been also dealing with the Councils plans to close the budget gap.
Reading Borough Council Chief Executive, Peter Sloman, said:
“I would like to apologise to Councillors and the public for the failure. It is my job to ensure the changes we are bringing in mean this cannot happen again, and to be accountable for the performance problems.”
To improve matters the Council is ensuring the correct capacity, staffing structure and experience is in place in the finance team, and is ensuring financial software systems are operating as they should. A detailed action plan to learn lessons from the 16/17 audit process will be a key element of the improvement plan. Further work is also ongoing with the Council’s auditors to ensure all necessary actions are complete.
In July this year the Council agreed a robust three year financial plan to address the future challenge of Government funding for public services failing to keep up with a huge spike in demand for Council services. As part of the audit process for 16/17, the Council is carrying out the necessary checks and balances to ensure it can be confident of its financial position going forward, which will enable it to deliver on the agreed three year plan.
The Council fully expects the 2016/17 accounts to be revised, signed off and audited when the accounts for 2017/18 are prepared and audited.
Notes to Editor:
The Audit Committee report can be found at: http://www.reading.gov.uk/media/7715/Item-4/pdf/Accounts2016-17.pdf