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Call for greater financial training

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Only a minority of senior finance councillors have taken specialised training in treasury management, according to a consultant.

Consultant Howard Knight made the claim in evidence presented to the Communities and Local Government select committee inquiry into the Icelandic bank crisis.

Mr Knight said his survey of leading councillors with responsibility for treasury management across two regions showed almost every member had had basic local government finance training.

But “only a minority” of lead members, including leaders and cabinet members for resources, had received additional treasury management training.

He said there was little evidence of treasury management being “subjected to the same degree of scrutiny as other council services and functions.”

And he told the committee that specialist training in treasury management should be incorporated in the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s soon to be revised treasury management code of practice.

Mr Knight was a councillor for Sheffield County Council from 1978-94. He was deputy chair of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities from 1987-93 and chaired its Public Services Committee from 1984-93.

The committee was also warned by the Local Government Association that council tax will increase if authorities are forced to put their money into low risk investments, like government stocks.

The LGA estimates that placing the£22bn local authorities invest each year in the government’s Debt Management Office would increase council tax levels by 2.5%.

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