Council finances in good shape say Audit Commission

THURROCK Council’s finances are in good shape, says the Audit Commission — but there is still a lot of work to do.

Cllr John Kent, Leader of the Council, said this week: “We have had to publicise a couple of what are called ‘Section 11 recommendations’, recommendations that will go to the next council meeting.

“But although there are problems with our processes, there are not longer any problems with our finances.”

The Audit Commission’s report into the council’s 2010-11 accounts states: “The council has successfully increased the general fund balance from £2.1 million at 31 March 2010 to £6.6 million at 31 March 2011 (£5.1 million after taking away sums the council has agreed can be carried forward to 2011/12).

“This balance is now in line with the Director of Finance and Corporate Governance’s assessment of the minimum level of balances the council should hold, although it is still below the desirable level of £7 million.”

It goes on: “The council’s spending was in line with the 2010/11 budget, which is a notable achievement given the £4.5 million in-year cuts [from the] emergency budget in July 2010 and the overspend against budget identified at the end of 2009/10.”

Cllr Kent said: “We have to admit that while we were focusing on the big picture — the in-year cuts, boosting reserves and coming in on budget — we let slip the focus on items the commission have picked up on.

“We weren’t ready by the 30 September deadline and there were some long-standing issues about the way our finance team put the final accounts together — issues neither we nor the commission had noted before.”

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