Naomi Larsson 10 January 2019

Watchdog highlights councils' weak financial plans

Watchdog highlights councils weak financial plans image

The number of public bodies in England with weak financial plans is ‘unacceptably high,’ the National Audit Office (NAO) has found.

In a report released today, the NAO warned the growing number of local bodies with inefficient plans to keep spending in budget was ‘a risk to public money’ and undermined confidence in services.

In 2017/18, 495 local authorities, local police and local fire bodies were responsible for £54bn of net revenue spending.

In the last year auditors had warned a significant number of bodies there were serious weaknesses in how they had arranged to secure value for money.

In 2017/18, auditors identified weaknesses in the financial planning of 208 local public bodies (22%) - up from 170 in 2015 (18%).

Head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, said: ‘I am shocked by the persistent high level of qualified audit reports at local public bodies.

'A qualification is a judgement that something is seriously wrong, but, despite these continued warnings, the number of bodies receiving qualifications is trending upwards.’

He added: ‘This is not good enough.

'Local bodies need to address their weaknesses and departments across Government should ensure they are challenging local bodies to demonstrate how they are responding.’

The NAO called for local public bodies to take ‘prompt and effective’ action to improve their financial arrangements and performance.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO, said: 'We found particularly concerning the suggestion that some public bodies do not understand the purpose of raising issues in the local auditors Value for Money (VfM) conclusions.

'Far too many respondents said that they were already aware of the issues raised and that the auditor’s VfM conclusions provided no further information, which is a disappointing response.

'Furthermore, even when issues were raised in VfM conclusions, the NAO’s report showed few bodies taking prompt and effective action in response to any weaknesses identified in their arrangements.'

Slavery in supply chains image

Slavery in supply chains

Tiffany Cloynes and Clare Hardy explore what responsibility councils may have in the future to eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains.
Open letter to Boris Johnson image

Open letter to Boris Johnson

The MJ's editor Heather Jameson asks the new PM a simple question: do you want to fund local government or do you want to scale back services to the basics?
Highways jobs

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32,029 - £34,788 per annum
Currently seeking an enthusiastic and experienced individual to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Head of Operational and Commercial Services

Copeland Borough Council
£66,273.48 per annum
Looking for a professional with ambition and inspirational leadership qualities, with operational service and... Cumbria
Recuriter: Copeland Borough Council

Senior Practitioner FRAT

London Borough of Bexley
£42,198 - £48,156 (inclusive benefits)
Looking to appoint an experienced Senior Social Workers to assist us in assessing family members/friends to see whether... Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

SEN Case Officer

London Borough of Bexley
£33,738 - £39,696
Would you like to support the educational opportunities for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Bexley? Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Senior Practitioner – Looked After Children

London Borough of Bexley
£42,198 - £48,156 inc benefits
Do you think you have what it takes to join our team of excellent and dedicated social work professionals? Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine