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Wales Audit Office - Unlawful spending at two councils exceeds £290,000

Significant deficiencies in procurement arrangements and governance found at two councils

Two councils have incurred unlawful expenditure of over £290,000, according to reports issued yesterday (6 November 2019) by the Auditor General for Wales. In both reports, significant deficiencies in procurement arrangements were found, with neither council having in place proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency nor effectiveness in their use of resources.

Buckley Town Council in North Wales has incurred expenditure totalling £153,898 on two cleaning contracts, and expenditure of £116,064 in the appointment of its Town Centre Manager. In these instances, the council was found to have failed to comply with its own standing orders. In doing so, the council incurred unlawful expenditure totalling £269,962.

Mumbles Community Council in West Wales was found to have significantly overspent its budget in relation to planning consultancy services and in so doing, had failed to comply with its own Standing Orders and Financial Regulations. The council incurred expenditure of £21,400 which was, according to the report, contrary to law.

The reports make a number of recommendations to the councils, including the review of:

  • Standing orders to remove any ambiguity
  • Procurement process to ensure compliance
  • Contract terms of reference

Both councils have been issued with a qualified audit opinion.

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said:

“This year alone I have had to issue twelve reports in the public interest, which highlight serious weaknesses in the financial management and governance and Town and Community Councils in Wales. This undermines public trust and can lead to a waste of public money. I call on all Town and Community councils to take heed and learn from the important lessons within these reports so that communities in Wales get the services and the assurance they rightly deserve.”

Notes to Editors

  • Acting under delegated arrangements and on behalf of the Auditor General for Wales, the Assistant Auditor General has issued these reports under section 22 of the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004.
  • The Auditor General is required to consider whether to issue a report in the public interest on any significant matter coming to his or her notice in the course of an audit, and to bring it to the attention of the audited body and the public.
  • It gives the Council an opportunity to explain the important steps it has taken to improve arrangements and to ensure that the risk of such failures recurring is reduced to a minimum.
  • After a report in the public interest is issued, the Council is required to consider the report at a full meeting of the Council within one month of the date of issue. At the meeting, the Council must decide whether the report requires it to take any action; whether the recommendations in the report are to be accepted; and what action (if any) to take in response to the report and recommendations.

Related publications: 

Original article link: http://www.audit.wales/news/unlawful-spending-two-councils-november-2019

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