Reading is one of 50 local authorities that failed to deliver annual accounts for the year ended 31 March 2018 by the statutory deadline of the end of July. It is also one of only seven councils that have still not completed accounts for the 2016/17 financial year.
These statistics are given in the annual Report on the Results of Auditor’s Work published by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) on 30 October. PSAA are the body responsible for appointing local government auditors.
In summary, 307 out of a total of 357 councils had completed their audit by 31 July, and 333 by 30 September. In 2017, the PSAA report was published in December and by that time 19 councils, including Reading, had not published audited accounts. The seven councils where 2017 accounts are still outstanding are named in the report:
- Council of the Isles of Scilly
- Northampton Borough Council
- Reading Borough Council
- Rossendale Borough Council
- Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
- Scarborough Borough Council
- Spelthorne Borough Council
Both Rossendale and Scarborough Borough Council auditors had still not signed off accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016.
The statutory deadline for audit completion was brought forward by two months this year, from the end of September to the end of July. The accelerated timetable was always going to be a challenge as Reading Borough Council (RBC) was late in producing accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016, and had delays with the 31 March 2017 accounts too.
In the PSAA report, the reason given for why the auditors could not reach an opinion on [the sign off of] RBC accounts was that the accounts were submitted late for audit.
RBC Audit & Governance committee on 27 September were told that the audit of the 2017/18 accounts could not start until the 2016/17 accounts have been finalised, but auditors were unable to give a date for this.