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Reading council branded "incompetent" after admitting accounting blunder

Friday 29th September

Labour-run Reading council was branded incompetent after it failed to submit its accounts on time. 

The council has apologised for the "failure" and have appointed an interim manager in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Reading West's Conservative MP, Mr Sharma told the BBC: "The fact that the council won't submit its accounts for appraisal by its auditor is absolutely shocking and despite repeated warning has failed to get a grip of its finances."

In an earlier tweet he said that there was a "horrible stench of financial incompetence".

The issue came to light in a report written by Reading council's finance director Peter Lewis.

He said the 2016-17 accounts had not been delivered due to "fundamental problems in the preparation" which meant external auditors were unable to offer an audit opinion.

Mr Lewis added the council's finance team had suffered from "a lack of capability in some areas, especially technical accounting".

He said it was focusing on "improving technical capacity and skills" and said the department had been hit by staff leaving and not being replaced.

Reading Borough Council's chief executive, Peter Sloman, said: "I would like to apologise to councillors and the public for the failure.

"It is my job to ensure the changes we are bringing in mean this cannot happen again, and to be accountable for the performance problems."

"In July this year the council agreed a robust three year financial plan to address the future challenge of Government funding for public services failing to keep up with a huge spike in demand for the council's services.

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