Oldham beats its own record to close accounts

11 Jun 13
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council closed its 2012/13 accounts in record time on May 31 this year, exceeding the standard it set last year.

The council’s 2011/12 accounts were closed on June 25 last year, a month ahead of any other authority in the country, earning it high praise from the Audit Commission.

Treasurer Steven Mair told Public Finance he was ‘extremely confident’ that Oldham was once again the first council to close its accounts.

He said early closure was made possible thanks to a detailed project action plan, regular meetings and audit planning.

‘We do a formal closedown at month six, we do a formal closedown at month nine, and we do regular clearance of all holding accounts on a monthly basis, so it doesn’t quite make the year end just like any other month but makes it a lot simpler than it otherwise would be,’ Mair told PF.

‘We see this as being a driver for improved financial management. It’s not about the accounts as such; it’s about improving financial management. The accounts are just a badge at the end of the process to evidence what we’ve done and it works extremely well.’

He added that the council had focused particularly on technical expertise and quality assurance. Oldham is building a three-stage quality assurance process with accounts going through a preparer, a reviewer and a quality assurer. This ensures the accounts submitted to the auditor are of a high quality, Mair added.

Steven Mair discussed Oldham’s approach to early accounts closure in Public Finance earlier this year. Read his article here.


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