Naomi Larsson 15 January 2019

Whitehall 'leadership' needed to help councils cope with financial pressures

The Government must improve oversight and transparency over local authorities to ensure their financial sustainability, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.

In a report released today, the NAO called for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to adopt a stronger leadership role to help local authorities cope with increasing financial and demand pressures.

Since 2010 local government’s real-term spending power has reduced by a third while demand in social care has increased dramatically, leading to more than 60% of single tier and county councils overspending their service budgets over the last year, the NAO said.

Auditors said these challenges required good governance arrangements, but spending by councils to support this had fallen by a third over the last nine years.

Head of the NAO, Sir Amyas Morse, said: ‘Poor governance can make the difference between local authorities coping and not coping.

‘Given the significant challenges these bodies face, the Government needs to take the lead in addressing weaknesses in the local governance system to ensure that local arrangements function as intended and support local decision-making.’

A survey by the NAO found a third of auditors felt many authorities were struggling in more than one aspect of governance, ‘demonstrating the stress on governance at a local level’.

More than a quarter of external auditors surveyed agreed that the risk profiles in many local authorities had increased in the last year due to financial pressures.

Chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, Rob Whiteman, said: ‘By following principles of best practice governance local authorities can provide greater assurance about their financial position and ensure that any signs of trouble are recognised early when action can be taken.

‘This is particularly important now, when we are in a time of unprecedented uncertainty for local government, with commercialisation and growing pressure on the finances of the sector meaning the overall risk profile is increasing.’

Fixing the broken retrofit system image

Fixing the broken retrofit system

Ian Preston, Centre for Sustainable Energy, argues the retrofit system is broken and offers lessons for the Local Authority Retrofit Scheme.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Benefits Officer

Wealden District Council
£24,409 - £32,858 p.a (dependant on experience and development milestones)
We are looking for an experienced Benefits Officer to join our team. Hailsham, East Sussex
Recuriter: Wealden District Council

Practitioner - Our Greenwich Schools Support Hubs

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£42,840 - £46,041
The Royal Borough of Greenwich is an exciting and fulfilling place to work. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Chargehand Driver HGV x6

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£36,100 - £37,384
Street Services provides a highly important service to all the borough’s residents and visitors Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

GDA Payments Apprentice

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£25,854
The Payments Services Team is in the Directorate of Finance & Legal Services Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Library & Neighbourhood Hubs Representative

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£23,893 pro rata (Pay award pending)
We are currently seeking to recruit a highly motivated individual with a passion for delivering the very best customer service. Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Linkedin Banner

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.