28 January 2000
Mainstream local government authorities have received an extra £24.25m via the local government settlement towards the additional costs of audit and inspection under the new regime. But national parks seem to have been overlooked.
Their 2.5% increase in approved expenditure is exactly as indicated in the Comprehensive Spending Review and no additional funds have been earmarked for Best Value audit.
A number of parks confirmed this week that audit costs, before taking account of the bills for inspection, were expected to be as much as £15,000 for each park. And although these figures are small in local government terms, their impact on national parks could be severe. The parks will have to dig deep into money needed to cover inflation, forcing them to scale back vital projects even further.
The Yorkshire Dales authority has raised its concerns with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. But Dave Butterworth, the authority's head of finance and resources, said it was not just the audit fees at issue.
He estimates Best Value will cost the authority between £45,000 and £50,000 in the first year, swallowing the vast majority of next year's government grant increase.