SSDC 2022 accounts last to be finished

Somerset Council is struggling with a financial position that is looking increasingly fragile. However part of the problem, as The Leveller has reported previously, is that it is unsure of its opening position.

The new council was formed on 1 April this year from Somerset’s county council and four districts. However not only have accounts not been finalised for 22/23 year ends, but some earlier years are still outstanding. Here is how the land lies:

  • Somerset West & Taunton are the one council close to having the 22/23 accounts signed off. They have been reasonably up to date throughout.
  • Somerset County Council were reasonably up to date although the 22/23 accounts are still outstanding.
  • Sedgemoor and Mendip have only just had their 2021 and 21/22 accounts signed off in the last couple of months.
  • That leaves South Somerset District Council as the last outstanding set of accounts for 2021/22.

Until these older accounts are completed and the 2022/23 audits are completed, the exact financial position of the new council cannot be determined. At least under the management of Jason Vaughan and Donna Parham, the overall quality of financial control and reporting seems to have improved.

SSDC problems remain

And the problems inherited from SSDC and their finance team have not gone away. The external auditors had to ask for a Ā£1.6m adjustment to correct errors in the 2021/22 accounts.

And once again SSDC’s auditors have had to undertake additional work that will lead to extra audit costs. They also report that there are still difficulties with the quality of audit papers. And an interesting remark about the behaviour of finance personnel who came across to Somerset Council from SSDC. The auditors note: “we are pleased to report that we have seen improvements in the communications of certain council staff.”

If that all sounds a bit enigmatic, then take a read of our previous article explaining how the 2020/21 audit came off the rails. You can find a link to that here: https://leveller.live/2022/03/26/damning-interim-audit-report-on-south-somerset/

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