Audit controller slams Scots council

11 Oct 01
Scotland's controller of audit has rounded on Scottish Borders Council for serious financial management weaknesses which led to a £3.9m overspend in education services.

12 October 2001

Ronnie Hinds said the department's budgetary control had been deficient in a number of areas, including 'weak management co-ordination, poorly constructed estimates and a lack of clear understanding regarding roles and responsibilities'.

In a report published on October 9, Hinds said elected members had been 'poorly served by officers' over the education budget for 2000/01, but members of the education committee had not taken the matter further when told of potential financial problems.

'I have investigated the reasons why Scottish Borders Council has overspent its education budget by almost £4m and identified serious flaws in financial management and budgetary control', said Hinds.

The report will go to the Accounts Commission, which can order a public hearing.

The council has already responded to the overspend by pushing through a £1.5m package of cuts in education recruitment, cleaning and maintenance spending.

The council's education working group produced its own report into the overspend on the eve of the publication of the audit controller's research. The internal report concentrated on the role of John Taylor, the former assistant director of education, who was dismissed when the overspend came to light.

Convenor Andrew Tulley said the council would discuss both reports on November 7. He added: 'The council accepts the controller of audit's report and aims to use it to improve future practice. We welcome this report which we hope will reassure the public.'


Did you enjoy this article?