Auditors uncover errors in Warwick District Council's accounts

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Warwick District Council will miss the July deadline for publishing its audited statement of accounts.

Auditors Grant Thornton explained that the delay was due to them finding a number of errors in the accounts which meant the figures failed to add up.

In a report to members of the council’s Finance and Audit Scrutiny Committee, personnel changes in the council’s finance department were highlighted as something that may have led to the errors. Grant Thornton explained that while there were no financial penalties for missing the deadline, there would be an increase in audit costs with extra time being spent checking the figures.

Cllr Peter Whiting, portfolio holder for finance, explained that Warwick District Council was unlikely to be the only authority to miss the deadline which was brought forward this year - it was previously two months later at the end of September.

He said: “I think the initial expectation from central government was that about 40 per cent of councils may fail to meet the deadline this year. The number I’m hearing is likely to be lower than that.

“I’m not saying any of that to excuse this outcome just giving you the context.

“The Executive is extremely disappointed by this outcome and we have made our views very clear to Mike [Snow - head of finance] and the senior management team.

“I think it is important that you keep the issue in perspective. There is no doubt that the council remains in good financial health. There is no doubt that the comments we made in the past about the prudent approach to finance that this council has taken for many years continue to hold good.

“The Executive has already requested the senior team, and Mike in particular, to prepare a full report that will outline the sequence of events that has led to this outcome. I won’t go into the gory details but they relate to changes in personnel, potential control weaknesses and a variety of other factors and that report will lay those issues out very clearly.

“It is clear that changes will need to be made in processes and systems. Grant Thornton have been saying that for a little while and this issue brings that sharply into focus.

“My concluding thought would be - it’s extremely disappointing, we’re taking the appropriate action and keep it in proportion.”

Mr Snow added: “The important thing is actually to learn from this and make sure that we take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we are not in this situation again next year or in the future.”