Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) strategic director of finance Peter Lewis updated the policy committee on Monday evening about progress on completion of accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017.
He told councillors that auditors Ernst & Young (EY) had begun five weeks work on the accounts at the civic offices.
The Whitley Pump calculates that this five week period ends on Monday 26 March, which is co-incidentally the date on which Peter Lewis formally hands over his duties and his abacus to the newly recruited resources director Jackie Yates.
Peter Lewis said:
We are still working through some complex issues, and some of those predate 2016/17 and we are working to resolve those, but we know that EY are with us for those five weeks.
It is not possible for us to sign off the 2016/17 accounts before the council meeting [28 February] but my undertaking to members has consistently been, and will remain to be, to provide as much assurance before the council meeting as is possible and I will work with EY in order to provide that assurance also.
Until last year’s accounts are signed off, there is a risk of uncovering errors and omissions which could impact this year’s reported income and expenditure and then roll forward into subsequent years. RBC are keen to point out that nothing untoward has been found so far. Final approval of the budget for next year is on the agenda for the RBC full council meeting on 28 February.
If accounts are not signed off by 31 March 2018, RBC will find itself with incomplete accounts for two financial years. Derby City Council set a precedent for this. They did not finalise 2016 accounts until September 2017, eighteen months after the end of the financial year. The reason they gave for the delay was “uncertainty in the estimated valuation of its assets”.
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