Grant Thornton, Wirral Council’s auditors, will be attending the Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee on Monday 23rd July. This is a public meeting where they will be telling the committee that Wirral Council does not provide value for money.
In their report it states:
“Under the National Audit Office (NAO) Code of Audit Practice (‘the
Code’), we are required to report whether, in our opinion:
the Council has made proper arrangements to secure economy,
efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources (‘the value for
money (VFM) conclusion’)
We have completed our risk based review of the Council’s value for money
arrangements. The Council continues to face a challenging financial position. Whilst
progress has been made in establishing a new Growth Company a significant proportion
of the £62m budget gap in 2018/19 is to be met through one-off use of reserves and
expected asset sales. This approach cannot continue and more needs to be done to put
the Council on a firm financial footing going forward.
Steps are continuing to address the issues highlighted by OFSTED in the their inspection
of Children’s services and improvements have been achieved. However, at this stage
the Council remains assessed as ‘inadequate’ and we intend to reflect this in our Value
for money conclusion judgement as in previous years.”
Their concerns about Children’s Services are to be discussed by councillors.
There are also concerns about the use of reserves and of one-off funding streams such as the selling of assets, ie land and buildings, which can only be done once to cover the £61m budget gap in 2018/19. They are concerned that this does not continue stating that, “More needs to be done to put the Council on a firm financial footing going forward. It is now critical that action is taken to deliver a sustainable and robust financial plan on which the Council can operate over the longer term. It is important that officers and members work together effectively to make this happen.”