Auditor praises accounts progress

By on 14/01/2011 in News

Improvements to Birmingham City Council's financial management and service performance have been recognised in the authority's Annual Audit Letter from the Audit Commission.

Council Leader Cllr Mike Whitby, who will present the Annual Audit Letter at Cabinet on January 17, said: “The Annual Audit Letter underlines our commitment to delivering the best possible services for the citizens of Birmingham.

“It highlights some notable positive achievements and acknowledges work we have done to address areas in need of improvement, with unqualified accounts being produced quicker than has been the case for many years.”

“We have risen to the challenge of improving our financial accounting – the fact our accounts were signed off in such a speedy manner for 2009/10 is remarkable, as the recovery from receiving a partial qualification, as we had in 2008/09, usually takes several years. In fact this is the earliest date we have been able to receive the District Auditor's opinion for over five years.”

Notable areas of progress showcased in the report include:

-    Councillors and senior staff provide good leadership, vision and prioritisation
-    The council's financial statements for 2009/10 being given an unqualified opinion, in essence a clean bill of health, just 12 months after a partial qualification was awarded
-    Control of expenditure during the year was regarded as “good”
-    “Good progress” has been made in developing a “robust” response to the financial pressures the authority faces in light of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review
-    Business Transformation and joint commissioning arrangements for adult social care services are “innovative projects and have already impacted positively on the council”
-    The council has made a “reasonable estimate of its liability” in relation to equal pay appeals
-    The introduction of a Cabinet Member for Finance has “brought renewed focus to delivering a financially robust council”
-    The council has satisfactory arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources - in effect, providing Value for Money

The council has accepted all recommendations made by the District Auditor and is working towards addressing them. Some points made in the letter include:

-    Ensuring that savings targets for 2010/11 are given priority and met
-    The council should continue to monitor the level and affordability of its borrowing
-    It should be ensured that the innovative Birmingham Integrated Commissioning Board implements a clear business plan that delivers improved adult social services and cost savings through joint commissioning
-    The council should continue to take appropriate action to ensure improvements are made in services for the safeguarding of children

Cllr Whitby added: “I am so pleased the significant achievements of the Council have been recognised, especially our capacity and determination to submit some of the most complicated accounts of any Local Authority in a professional fashion.

“However, we will never rest on our laurels - and our determination to offer citizens the best possible value for money means we will do all we can to meet the challenges we continue to face.”

Ends

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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