Independent review ordered into Haringey Borough Council's accounting errors

Haringey Independent: Leader of the Lib Dem's Councillor Richard Wilson Leader of the Lib Dem's Councillor Richard Wilson

An independent review will be carried out into accounting errors made by Haringey Borough Council which cost the authority more than £30,000.

At a meeting of the council's corporate committee, new chief executive Nick Walkley announced there would be an inquiry into the errors, which were made by the council in its accounts from April 2011 to March 2012.

The Haringey Independent reported in October that the council’s auditor said it had done so much extra work it would have to charge the authority.

As a result of the errors, the auditor had initially refused to sign off the accounts until the last day before the deadline and it was estimated the extra costs could be as high as £45,000.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group Councillor Richard Wilson said: “The council must get to the bottom of this shambles. It is the only way that massive mistakes like this can be avoided in the future.

“I hope that the independent review will uncover how so many errors happened and how on earth they were not spotted until the very last minute.

“The people of Haringey deserve answers. They also need a council that is capable of managing its money properly.

“Haringey has one of the highest council taxes in London and some of the poorest services. Haringey Council has been failing local residents and must do better in the future.”

The cost of the extra work from the audit is now expected to cost the council £32,000.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Haringey’s newly appointed chief executive asked for a review to be carried out on the closing of this year’s accounts to ensure any necessary improvements have been made.”

She added the review would be carried out by the end of January and results will be reported back to the corporate committee.

Comments (4)

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4:14pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Cwcomm says...

Only reasonable to have a look at the process of closing the accounts, although the Auditors themselves in their formal Audit letter, available on the council's website, state that "the 2011/12 accounts give a true and fair view of the Council's
financial affairs and of the income and expenditure recorded by the
Council", that the issues with finalising the accounts did not affect the bottom line, and that "the Council made proper arrangements to
secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources".

Also worth noting that this extra £32,000 is 7% of the auditors' overall bill of £454,500, over which the council has no control - so we might conclude that they had to do 7% extra work.
Only reasonable to have a look at the process of closing the accounts, although the Auditors themselves in their formal Audit letter, available on the council's website, state that "the 2011/12 accounts give a true and fair view of the Council's financial affairs and of the income and expenditure recorded by the Council", that the issues with finalising the accounts did not affect the bottom line, and that "the Council made proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources". Also worth noting that this extra £32,000 is 7% of the auditors' overall bill of £454,500, over which the council has no control - so we might conclude that they had to do 7% extra work. Cwcomm
  • Score: 0

9:58am Thu 24 Jan 13

mark312 says...

Cwcomm - it's also worth looking at what else the auditors said:

"Management identified a number of errors to the financial statements…

"The Whole of Government Accounts pack was not submitted to the DCLG in line with the deadline of 31 July…

"The Council provided working papers on the first day of the audit, however these were incomplete…

"Some actions agreed by us with the Council after the 2010/11 accounts to improve the accounts process had not been implemented."

(From http://www.minutes.h
aringey.gov.uk/mgCon
vert2PDF.aspx?ID=276
51)

That last point is particularly damning in my view - failing to implement actions previously promised to the auditors.
Cwcomm - it's also worth looking at what else the auditors said: "Management identified a number of errors to the financial statements… "The Whole of Government Accounts pack was not submitted to the DCLG in line with the deadline of 31 July… "The Council provided working papers on the first day of the audit, however these were incomplete… "Some actions agreed by us with the Council after the 2010/11 accounts to improve the accounts process had not been implemented." (From http://www.minutes.h aringey.gov.uk/mgCon vert2PDF.aspx?ID=276 51) That last point is particularly damning in my view - failing to implement actions previously promised to the auditors. mark312
  • Score: 0

5:52pm Thu 24 Jan 13

Cwcomm says...

Mark,
It may or may not be "damning", depending what they were; they appear to be process issues, which will now be looked at.

It's pertinent also that the errors were identified by management, not the auditors, they did not have any impact on the "reported General Fund balance" - bottom line in other words.

So no money missing or unaccounted for, and nothing here to suggest that the council wasn't in control of its spending or managing its money properly; in fact the opposite, according to the auditors' judgement.

This isn't to minimise the issue, and it's right that the council is having a look at the process, but we should avoid hyperbole I think.
Mark, It may or may not be "damning", depending what they were; they appear to be process issues, which will now be looked at. It's pertinent also that the errors were identified by management, not the auditors, they did not have any impact on the "reported General Fund balance" - bottom line in other words. So no money missing or unaccounted for, and nothing here to suggest that the council wasn't in control of its spending or managing its money properly; in fact the opposite, according to the auditors' judgement. This isn't to minimise the issue, and it's right that the council is having a look at the process, but we should avoid hyperbole I think. Cwcomm
  • Score: 0

2:20am Sat 26 Jan 13

ZenithB says...

A situation like this needs to be approached with clarity of mind. Couching it in apparently learned terms that seem to favour one's predilection is what is responsible for it in the first place.The taxpayer is entitled to an understanding of what actually happened on first reading.
A situation like this needs to be approached with clarity of mind. Couching it in apparently learned terms that seem to favour one's predilection is what is responsible for it in the first place.The taxpayer is entitled to an understanding of what actually happened on first reading. ZenithB
  • Score: 0

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