Westminster publishes accounts in record time

13 Jun 16

Westminster City Council has claimed to have produced the earliest ever set of public sector accounts after getting its books for 2015/16 to external auditors on 9 April, only nine days after the year end.

The quick turnaround comes after the council set the record for accounts sign off in local government last year after it closed its audited accounts for 2014/15 on 18 May 2015.

The authority’s cabinet was informed on 6 June that the council had prepared its final accounts for 2015/16 and submitted them to the external auditors on 9 April. This is a full 12 weeks in advance of the statutory requirement of the 30 June and exceeds the performance of 94% of the FTSE 100 list of top companies, including the nine largest, according to Westminster.

Tim Mitchell, cabinet member for finance and corporate services praised city treasurer (and Public Finance Top 50 member) Steven Mair and his team for the quality of the work.

“We have achieved in nine days what most local government bodies take three months to complete,” he said.

“The council’s accounts represent one outcome from the financial management transformation work that is continuing. This will underpin the work of the council as well as ensuring compliance with statutory requirements, budget management and excellent financial practice.”

The early closure of accounts is a significant driver of efficiency, Westminster said in a statement. The authority has used project management disciplines to develop an action plan with defined roles and responsibilities, as well as a communication and stakeholder management plan, risk management and progress reporting to ensure a speedy turn around without any compromise in quality.

The council meeting to consider and approve the accounts cannot take place before 14 July following an inspection period. However, external auditors Grant Thornton presented their audit findings to audit and performance committee on 12 May, and in all significant respects the council was deemed to have proper arrangements in place to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.

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