Good budget poor accounts at Worthing Borough Council

AN Audit Commission report has criticised Worthing Borough Council for the quality of its 2009/10 financial statements – but it concludes that the council has managed its budget well over the past year.

The Annual Audit Letter said the overall quality of the financial statements approved by members in June, 2010, “was not of the quality expected”.

But its partnership working with Adur District Council “continued to deliver service efficiencies and financial savings”.

The report, which went before the council’s governance and audit committee, continues: “It will take more than efficiency savings alone to meet all financial pressures, and members and officers are reviewing spending priorities.

“This exercise is key to the future financial stability of the council.

“The council has to cope with a major change to the accounting regime in 2010/10 because of the introduction of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards).

“Effective processes are required to improve the quality of the financial statements, including the associated working papers, and manage the IFRS implementation.”

A good track record of reviewing services exists, said the report, which continued: “A programme to review all joint services with Adur exists, and annual combined savings are reported as £593,000 as at March 31, 2010, which is expected to rise to £2.3million by March 31, 2011.

“Officers have estimated £6.5million cumulative savings for both councils to the end of 2012/13.

“Service delivery priorities are clear and spending focuses on services the council considers the most important.

“Partnership working with Adur has saved the two councils more than £2million in 2009/10.

High-level business cases exist to extend partnership working and detailed business cases that include comparable cost information and other bench marking data are prepared.”

Council leader Paul Yallop told the Herald: “We have been through a period of great change, with service sharing with Adur, and we are learning as we go in the new circumstances.”

Mr Yallop said the Audit Committee’s comments would help the council to do the job better next year.