East Lothian Council

Council's 2016/17 Annual Audit identifies strong financial management

Published Wednesday 1st November 17

Benefits and arrears

2016/17 Annual Audit Report presented to full Council meeting

The 2016/17 Annual Audit Report carried out by Audit Scotland was presented to a meeting of East Lothian Council today (Tuesday 31 October).

The Audit Report includes an independent audit of the council’s annual report and accounts and considers four main areas of public sector audit requirements; Financial Sustainability, Financial Management; Governance and Transparency and Value for Money.

Contained within the audit are a number of ‘main judgements’ which detail that East Lothian Council’s financial management is ‘effective with a budget setting process focused on the council’s priorities.’ It also stated that the council has ‘a good track record of delivering services within its budgets and over the past two years has consistently contained its expenditure within annual budgets’. As part of the council’s financial management procedures it was also noted that ’appropriate internal controls are in place and that these were found to be operating effectively’.

East Lothian Council Depute Leader, Cllr Norman Hampshire, said:

“The council, in common with other local authorities across the UK, has faced considerable financial challenges in recent years. We have taken a number of decisions to help support and protect key services, particularly to those most vulnerable in our communities, and have done so in a financially responsible manner. It is very encouraging to read the key findings of this independent audit which recognises the sound management of the council’s public funds.

“In addition to the continued provision of front line services within budget, the audit also details the considerable success in achieving planned savings. In addition to the continued provision of frontline services within budget, the audit also details the considerable success in achieving the delivery of savings. In the financial year 2016/17, the council delivered savings of over £5m through a combination of planned savings as well as an effective management of service budgets which delivered an ‘in year’ underspend.

“Looking ahead, Audit Scotland details that the council has robust strategies and plans over the short and medium term and recognises that we require to develop more fully for longer term expenditure commitments. The council has already made good progress with this using the current three year Financial Strategies and the identified priorities in the Council Plan 2017-2022 as a basis to develop a longer term financial plan.

“The audit includes recognition of the comprehensive elected members induction training programme that supports newly elected councillors understand both the processes and their responsibilities within local government. It also highlights the importance of maintaining effective scrutiny of council business. It finds that our governance arrangements are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they remain effective, and we recognise the importance of continuing this into the future.”

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