Mark Whitehead 05 October 2018

MP accuses Reading council of 'financial mismanagement’

The cost of sorting out Reading Borough Council's 2016/17 annual accounts is likely to reach at least £400,000, it has been revealed.

A report to the council's audit and governance committee says the accounts should have been signed off by the end of September last year.

But over the past year, auditors EY have been 'unable to find evidence to substantiate some of the balances in the accounts' due partly to 'the passing of time and the turnover of officers'.

The report says problems over 'fixed asset and capital accounting issues' still need to be resolved with the auditors which will impact on 'the value of property plant and equipment and two of the unusable reserves'.

It says consultants have 'recommended further changes to the accounts for the council’s two Public Finance Initiative (PFI) Schemes and provided EY with details of the changes.'

A review will take place of all year-end balances on creditor and debtor ledger codes in 2017/18 to 'ensure that they are fully evidenced and correctly calculated.'

The initial £100,000 fee agreed with EY is now likely to have increased by £300,000, the report concludes.

Reading West Conservative MP Alok Sharma has accused the Labour-run council of 'financial mismanagement’ and called for resignations from councillors.

In a statement the council said it was working with the auditors to finalise a number of areas of the 2016/17 audit and 'good progress is being made'.

It said: 'It is hoped EY will be in a position to issue an opinion during November 2018. The 2017/18 accounts cannot be finalised until the 2016/17 accounts have been signed off. It is anticipated the 2017/2018 accounts will be ready for issue to EY in early December 2018.'

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