Rush to complete audit report on time costs Brent Council an extra �50,000

Town hall forced to spend five-figure sum to ensure they hit deadline

Brent Council was charged �50,000 for extra work that needed to be undertaken, leading to its failure to submit its annual audit report on time, it has emerged.

That meant the auditor was required to postpone the completion date due to significant further work that had to be taken out, an annual audit letter to the council showed.

Audit accounts are designed to show the council’s arrangements to achieve value for money in its use of resources.

As a result of the delayed process, Brent Council was handed an ‘amber’ status for the report and had to pay a total cost of more than �560,000 to the auditors.

During the council’s executive meeting on Monday, Councillor Muhammed Butt, lead member for resources and deputy leader of the council, said the council may have let “too many staff go to soon”.

Sarah Cox, speaking on behalf of Brent’s anti cuts campaigning group Brent Fightback, expressed fears about the nature of the extra costs.

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She said: “The whole atmosphere of cuts and the redundancies that arise contribute to these anomalies that you cannot account for, �50,000 is a substantial amount of money and in the current climate certainly is something that isn’t needed.

“It seems as though it might be that they have let too many people slip and as a result were unable to meet targets.”

The news comes at a time when the council will face a further �8m cut in funding from central government for the coming year.

A spokesman for Brent Council said the council faced ‘significant’ challenges in 2010/2011 and that the amber assessment reflected “some weaknesses” in the application of their internal controls and financial reporting arrangements.

He added: “However, despite these difficulties, with additional work from the council and the auditors, the District Auditor was able to issue an unqualified opinion and Value for Money conclusion. The council is now well placed to deliver its 2011/12 accounts.”