Monday, September 18, 2017

News: Rotherham Council passes external audit

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External auditors have concluded that Rotherham Council has made proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the first time since Government-appointed commissioners were brought in.

The authority was deemed "not fit for purpose" by the Government in 2015 and a statutory inspection by Louise Casey, a government official and director general of the Troubled Families board, found a "complete failure of political and officer leadership in Rotherham."

The review came after a 2014 report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that described how vulnerable children had been repeatedly failed by the Council.

At the same time local councils are using external auditors from the private sector to assess their abilities in areas such as meeting legal requirements, financial statements, value for money and financial resilience.

The auditors need to be satisfied as to whether there have been effective arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources. External auditors at KPMG concluded that this has been the case for 2016/17. It was not for 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16.

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The Council employs around 8,000 staff and spends around £667m per year.

The external auditors, who charged some £156,000 for the report, said: "We have concluded that the authority has made proper arrangements to ensure it took properly-informed decisions and deployed resources to achieve planned and sustainable outcomes for taxpayers and local people."

It comes at the same time as further powers were returned to the Council by the Government. The move brings all functions aside from children's social care back under the Council's democratic control.

The Government-appointed commissioners have been given until March 2019 to improve and hand back all services. They have been working in an advisory capacity in recent months as the Council's cabinet makes decisions, including in areas such as regeneration and the local economy.

The governance arrangements were assessed by the external auditors who concluded that "the number of functions that have been returned to be the responsibility of the Council demonstrates the progress that the Council has made since the initial [Casey] report was published."

Rotherham Council recently drew criticism after publishing a number of independent investigation reports that concluded that no charges would be brought against any senior figures despite "various and substantial organisational failings" being found.

Images: RMBC

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