Oldham beats its accounts closure record

20 May 15

Oldham Council has beat its own speed record for closing its accounts after approval was given to its 2014/15 report by the authority’s audit committee yesterday.

The council, which was the fastest public body to close its final accounts last year, has managed to get even quicker this year.

Draft accounts for 2014/15 were given to external auditors on April 14, the fastest in the country, and three days faster than last year.

Sign off from the council’s audit committee yesterday meant that approval for the accounts was given nine days earlier than in 2013/14, when the authority beat a 50-year record.

Announcing the approval today, Abdul Jabbar, cabinet member for finance and human resources, said Oldham’s finance team’s reputation in this area was ‘unmatched within the public sector in recent years’.

He added: ‘These are our best-ever set of accounts in terms of their accuracy and that gives our council taxpayers assurance that we have effective arrangements in place to manage the public purse with a level of scrutiny that also confirms we are getting value for their money.

‘In an era when the challenge of balancing our books becomes more difficult each year it is to the great credit of our finance team that they continue to raise the bar and work tirelessly to deliver accounts that aren’t just speedy but probably unparalleled in terms of their accuracy.’

He emphasised that the key focus in preparing the accounts was not speed but quality and accuracy.

After examining the draft accounts, external auditor Grant Thornton gave the council a ‘green’ rating for every areas assessed, including for the first time a top rating for borrowing.

The auditors said the draft accounts and working papers were of a high quality and ‘the prompt production of the draft financial statements enabled the members of the audit committee sufficient time to review the statements and ask challenging and pertinent questions’.

The council said this meant it was now in its strongest-ever position in terms of demonstrating proper arrangements are in place to ensure financial resilience and challenge how to achieve best economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

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