William Eichler 12 October 2021

Auditor uncovers ‘significant deficiencies’ in four Welsh councils

Auditor uncovers ‘significant deficiencies’ in four Welsh councils image

An audit has revealed significant breakdowns in financial management and internal governance arrangements at four councils in Wales, which resulted in unlawful expenditure at one of the local authorities.

A report issued today by the Auditor General for Wales, found that there are systemic weaknesses in governance and internal control at St Harmon Community Council.

The audit found that the council had acted unlawfully when appointing its Clerk/RFO, co-opting members, awarding grants and contracting for the supply of services.

The council also failed to comply with various legislative requirements including those related to the preparation, approval and submission for the audit of its annual accounts.

The Auditor General also found that the Magor with Undy Community Council had failed to follow its own internal procurement services rules resulting in unlawful expenditure of over £62,793, and its processes for the appointment of staff are poor incurring an unlawful expenditure of £22,337.

Llanpumsaint Community Council also failed to submit their annual accounts for audit, according to the Auditor General. This non-compliance includes the refusal of the Council’s Clerk to discharge his responsibilities and his obstruction of the audit process. Consequently, the cost of the audit ‘increased significantly’.

The Auditor General’s report also described Sully and Lavernock Community Council ‘dysfunctional’ – a state that is the result of a long-standing history of conflict between members. It found that during 2018-19, the council failed to take sufficient steps to satisfy itself that its governance arrangements are effective.

‘Significant deficiencies in governance, financial management, audit transparency and inadequate arrangements to secure value for money are just some of the matters at four community councils that I’ve found,’ said Auditor General Adrian Crompton.

‘These issues highlight serious weaknesses in the Community Councils, undermines public trust and has led to a waste of public money. I call on all Town and Community councils to take heed and learn from the important lessons within these reports so that communities in Wales get the services and the assurance they rightly deserve.’

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