Councillors ‘not aware’ of finances

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Changes to ensure councillors are made more aware of Babergh’s financial position throughout the year are being recommended.

Babergh District Council’s auditor, BDO, has flagged up the measure as a “significant deficiency” in internal controls, after auditing the authority’s yearly accounts, due to be signed off today.

In a final report to the audit committee, BDO said that, during its review of the council’s systems and processes, it found that budgeting monitoring was done on an informal basis.

BDO said: “The council’s income and expenditure does not come under regular scrutiny by democratically elected members, and members are not aware of the council’s financial position.

“This is of increased importance given the savings and period of transformation so that reporting is clear and transparent, and members are able to monitor delivery against expected outcomes.”

The same report shows BDO fees, for auditing the accounts, were £93,937.

The company said there were no areas of concern over the council’s efficiency and effectiveness, with the council over-achieving against is forecasted budget and making savings in a number of areas.

The report shows the council’s expenditure for the year was £49.9million with gross income £65.9million.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils – which have integrated and merged some services to save money – have reduced their joint workforces by 10 per cent over the last three years.

As a result, during the current year, £350,000 was saved on salaries.

Accounts show the highest paid member of staff, the joint chief executive, had a total remuneration package of £135,485.

A total of 18 staff, who left during 2013/14, had redundancy costs of £341,866.

In a joint annual treasury report by Babergh’s corporate manager, Barry Hunter, Babergh was shown to have borrowed £88.2million with loans set to be paid back between 2017 and 2078.

He said the council’s debt management strategy was to continue to take advantage of low borrowing rates.