Concern raised as auditor refuses to sign off Blackpool Council accounts

Concern has been raised over town hall finances
Concern has been raised over town hall finances
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Auditors have refused to sign off Blackpool Council's end-of-year accounts for what is believed to be the first time in the authority's history.

Councillors were told external auditor KPMG had been unable to approve the accounts for the financial year 2017/18 due to a 'procedural' issue.

Coun Paul Galley

Coun Paul Galley

It mean the audit committee was also unable to agree the figures.

Town hall chiefs now say they have received the necessary information to amend the accounts and it is hoped they will be agreed before the end of this month.

Coun Paul Galley, chairman of the audit committee, said the issue was around pension liabilities and the auditor had asked for some figures to be recalculated.

Coun Galley said: "Following rigorous questioning of council officers and KMPG, councillors agreed we could not part sign off the accounts.

"We therefore agreed not to approve the statement of accounts and instead wait until the external auditor agrees to sign them off.

"I was proud of the standard of debate in the meeting and that the audit committee stayed true to its independent role as an overseer of independent challenge and scrutiny to council processes. "

Coun Galley added it was the first time in the council's history the accounts had not been signed off.

He said: "I believe we have set the right precedent as it's really important the people of Blackpool have confidence that we do scrutinise the accounts."

It comes as some other councils are facing financial crisis, with Northamptonshire County Council having to drastically cut services due to its financial problems.

Coun Galley said: "One of the questions we asked at the meeting was is there any risk to our financial ability to survive the next 12 months.

"The answer was 'yes' we can survive and 'yes' we will survive."

The council says it has now submitted the new information to the auditor and is "aiming to take both documents to the Audit Committee for approval before the end of this month."

Blackpool Council has seen cuts of £500m made to its budgets over the past six years.

But last month council leader Coun Simon Blackburn told a full meeting of the council town hall finances were "in very good health" compared to many other local authorities.

He was speaking as it was revealed the council had added £2m to its reserves, which now stand at £6m.