Hartlepool Borough Council praised by auditors for management of finances

Auditors have praised the way Hartlepool Borough Council manages its finances in an annual report.

Friday, 16th December 2016, 4:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th December 2016, 8:41 am
The council was found to have good systems in place to manage its finances in an effecive way.

External audit company Mazars LLP was presented the council’s annual audit letter during a meeting of the Audit & Governance Committee.

The company produced a report to councillors, in which the council’s management of finances was backed, and it was also praised for providing “value for money”.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells.

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Mark Kirkham, a partner at Mazars LLP, said in the report: “The purpose of this document is to summarise the outcome of the audit of the council’s 2015-16 annual accounts and our work on our value for money conclusion.

“2015-2016 has been another challenging year for the council and, like most other authorities across the country, the council made some tough decisions on its spending priorities and plans.

“For 2015-16, we are required to satisfy ourselves the council has made proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources. In all significant respects, the audited body (Hartlepool Borough Council) had proper arrangements to ensure it took properly informed decisions and deployed resources to achieve planned and sustainable outcomes for taxpayers and local people.”

Coun Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the council’s audit and governance committee, told of the authority’s “reassurance” at receiving a positive report.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells.

He said: “It is always reassuring to receive praise from external auditors. The report highlights that we have good systems in place to manage our finances effectively and provide value for money which is so important in a climate of ever-reducing resources.”

The council managed a revenue budget of more than £130million in 2015-16, including schools.

However, auditors also highlighted that further challenges are ahead for the council as it plans to “bridge the funding gap”.

The report added: “The council has made good progress in addressing its biggest challenges to date, and has a proven track record of strong budget management and delivering planned budget reductions.

“The council is working to achieve challenging savings plans for 2016-17 and to identify further plans to bridge the funding gap for 2017-18 to 2019-20 of £12.690m as set out in the council’s medium term financial strategy.

“The difficulty in maintaining good service performance levels at the same time as reducing budgets is recognised by the council.”