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'Angst' over borough's ongoing delay to accounts' publication

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Northampton BC’s inability to sign off on last year’s accounts has been blamed on a high turnover of staff, coupled with an extensive use of interim managers, according to the council’s chief finance officer.

The council will miss its deadline of the end of August, Stuart McGregor said in a report to be put before audit committee on 3 September.

Mr McGregor said in the report that a high “churn” of staff had created “knowledge gaps”, leading to delays in producing final accounts for 2016-17.

Mr McGregor wrote: “There is an angst and frustration from all parties, that at each stage of progress, from June 2017, issues have unwound previous work and required rework, in some cases several times.

“Having monitored progress since February 2018, it is clear there is no single factor that can be identified as the root cause of the problem, but a constant flow of what would individually have been minor issues has, in this ‘high risk’ audit environment led to cumulative problems and system weaknesses.”

For full coverage of Northamptonshire CC’s financial crisis, click here.

Mr McGregor also noted that this delay was due to a need to update the council’s system of processing property values and changes. This change was deemed necessary to prevent the need to manually input around 22,000 transactions.

LGC reported in June how Northampton BC’s auditors KPMG voiced alarm over errors in valuing council property and in contract management, which led them to question its accounts.

A separate internal audit report for 2017-18 by PwC also raised concerns about the council’s processes.

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