SE Cambs Labour asks: Where’s the transparency? How much money is going on fees? What’s going on at South Cambs District Council?
Since the Liberal Democrats took control of South Cambs District Council in 2018, there has been a distinct lack of transparency when it comes to how the Council spends taxpayers’ money.
The Council has only recently published draft accounts for the year ending March 2019. And at the recent Audit and Corporate Governance meeting (held 29th July), the auditors presented a damming report that pointed out that issues had been identified some time ago and that the ‘Council has yet to resolve these basic accounting requirements.’ It goes on to say that the audit still may not be completed by October with a key reason being ‘the inability of the Council to resolve the issues […] in line with the agreed timetable.”
Meanwhile the Lib Dem administration is keen to cast the blame elsewhere
Excuse 1: Previous Conservative Administration. The Lib Dems have been in charge for 39 months, more than enough time to sort out problems
Excuse 2: Auditors being busy. The other seven local authorities in Cambridgeshire use the same firm. And three of them have the same lead auditor. All of them are now up-to-date with their audited accounts. All of them have published draft accounts for 20/21.
Excuse 3: Understaffing. They’ve used this before. Promised they now have the right team in place before. And still they are failing to finalise the accounts.
Elizabeth McWilliams, Local Government spokesperson for SE Cambs Labour says
“I wrote to South Cambs Council a month ago to ask when the audited accounts for the Financial Years 2018/19 and 2019/20 would be published. To date I have not received any reply, not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement.
“The Lib Dem manifesto for the recent County Council elections, spoke about ‘restoring trust’ and stated that ‘people need to see how the taxes they pay relate to the services they receive’.
“These are good sentiments and I agree with them. But in practice the Lib Dems on the District Council are causing a loss of trust and there’s a lack of transparency. They should publish all the missing accounts, in draft at least.
I am concerned about how the extra audit fees are mounting up. The latest report suggests that there could be up to £60,000 in extra costs for the financial year ending March 2019 just because of delays. That’s a lot of money. For example, on average SCDC spends £55,000 on Community Chest grants each year. So they could fund many more extra community projects with that cash.”
“We have to ask what is going on at Liberal Democrat run South Cambridgeshire District Council that no complete accounts have been published since the Lib Dems took control.”
Background information. Links to all councils accounts
Cambridge City Council https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/statement-of-accounts
Cambridgeshire County Council
East Cambs Council https://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/finance/council-accounts
Fenland Council https://www.fenland.gov.uk/finance
Huntingdonshire District Council https://www.huntingdonshire.gov.uk/council-democracy/council-open-data-and-information/budget-and-spending/finance-document-archive/
South Cambridgeshire District Council https://www.scambs.gov.uk/your-council-and-democracy/performance-and-plans/council-accounts-and-annual-governance-statement/
Audit report presented to the Audit and Governance Committee on 29th July https://www.docdroid.com/5qmSg50/ernst-young-llp-external-audit-south-cambridgeshire-district-council-pdf