William Eichler 18 August 2016

Welsh councils must ‘improve’ financial arrangements, auditors say

The financial planning of Welsh councils is ‘strengthening’, but there is still scope to improve the way savings are identified and delivered, auditors say.

The Wales Audit Office has published a report looking at the quality and effectiveness of current financial planning, control and governance arrangements of the 22 councils in Wales.

It found financial planning processes are ‘strengthening’ and that there are good systems in place that help ‘manage and control’ finances despite financial pressures.

The report also said local authority governance arrangements were ‘mostly sound’.

However, auditors highlighted a number of areas of concern. They revealed there is room for improvement in how savings are identified and delivered, and noted spending within budgets is proving to be a ‘challenge’ for some authorities.

They also warned the engagement of councillors and the effectiveness of decision making in respect of savings was ‘inconsistent’.

The Auditors’ report makes a number of recommendations. Councils, it said, should strengthen their financial-planning and performance management arrangements.

They should also develop corporate wide income generation and charging policies and ensure they have a comprehensive reserves strategy.

The 2015-16 Wales Audit Office report reflects the 2014-15 report where auditors raised the same concerns.

Welsh councils have faced dramatic cuts in recent years. The Welsh government announced a £175m reduction in core funding for 2014-15 and a further £65m in 2015-16.

The Welsh Local Government Association predicts financial pressures will mean the local shortfall will be around £460m by the end of this financial year.

‘Councils in Wales are facing significant financial challenges,’ said the Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas.

‘The continued impact of austerity and reductions in public monies, coupled with the unclear implications of ‘Brexit’, require councils to continue to cope with uncertainties.

‘Whilst I am pleased to see councils making progress in strengthening their financial planning, they need to do more in response to the challenging environment and our recommendations to both authorities and Welsh government will help councils move forward and ensure that services are run as efficiently as possible.’

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Road Worker

City of Bradford MDC
Band 6 £20,043 - £22,129 pa
Bradford Metropolitan District Council is looking for two Road Workers to join the Highway Delivery Unit. Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Senior Practitioner - Family Support and Protection

Essex County Council
£41552 - £50290 per annum + + Free Parking & Local Gov Package
Closing Date
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Planning Enforcement Officer

Greater Cambridge Shared Planning
Grade 5, £30,737 - £35,747 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen within the Greater Cambridge Planning Enforcement Team Cambourne/Cambridge/Hybrid
Recuriter: Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Assistant Engineer / Engineer

City of Bradford MDC
£24,920 - £34,373 pa
This is an opportunity to join the highway maintenance team Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Technician - Maintenance Programmes (3 Posts)

Derbyshire County Council
£23,657 - £25,568 per annum - Plus market leading package (see below)
This is an exciting time to join our in-house Highways Service Hybrid
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.