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Date issued: 31 July 2019
Independent auditors have praised Colchester Borough Council for the sound management of its budget.
In a report presented to the Governance and Audit Committee last night (30 July), independent auditors, BDP, gave their assessment of the council’s performance for the 2018/19 financial year including its accounts, pensions, property and risk management.
Auditors gave the council an ‘unqualified opinion’, saying its financial statements were a fair representation of the authority’s operations and financial position. The council also received a positive opinion of its approach to the use of resources and value for money.
The auditors noted efficient management of financial resources, that the council's financial reserves were £530,000 more than the recommended level, and that the council had achieved the savings needed to balance the books.
The auditors also noted the council had a fully-costed plan to close the council’s budget gap, achieve further savings of £1.5m to break-even in 2019/20, and had work underway to address longer financial challenges.
In addition, the auditors looked at how spending on capital projects, such as Northern Gateway, is monitored and said the council is on track to deliver its projects very close to budget.
Councillor David King, Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, said: “The Audit Completion Report confirms that Colchester Borough Council has a robust and effective approach to managing our finances.
“I was pleased to see auditors recognise both our efforts and ambition to deliver value for money for our residents, despite the continued pressure on our finances from reduced government funding, increasing demand and changing responsibilities.
“We are in a much better financial shape than some other local authorities. The pressures will be a little less next year than they were last year, but we must be prepared for an uncertain world – not least future government spending, funding and Brexit.
“It is good to see external recognition of our prudent financial management. This council has had a tough challenge in recent years, but we have managed the huge reductions in government funding well.
“We have strong balances and reserves; we are achieving our latest and expected savings targets, and our commercial approach to income generation and securing external funding means we will be far better placed than many to continue to protect essential front-line services.
“We are determined to provide value-for-money for residents across the borough. We will continue to balance the books. We will deliver improvements and the Better Colchester residents and visitors expect. We can only do that with effective and honest financial and risk management. It is great to have that confirmed by an independent audit.”