Auditors still yet to sign off Northampton Borough Council accounts after errors

Councillors were told at The Guildhall that progress had been slower than expected
Councillors were told at The Guildhall that progress had been slower than expected

Northampton Borough Council’s accounts for the 2016/17 financial year have still yet to be signed off by auditors after mistakes in valuing the council’s fixed assets.

And the delay means the cost of the audit has skyrocketed to more than twice its normal cost.

External auditors KPMG wrote to the council in September 2017 saying they had identified issues relating to the valuation of social housing, other land and buildings and investment properties.

KPMG said this came after an external valuation firm adopted a different adjustment factor for the valuations which was not within guidelines issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

But it appears progress on fixing the issue has not been as fast as the council’s external auditors wanted.

Andrew Cardoza, from KPMG, told members of the council’s audit committee on Monday evening: “I was not happy to sign things off because of fixed assets, and the information we had was poor and incorrect.

“In terms of where we are nine months on from writing to the council, it has not progressed significantly enough for me to say that I will have them signed off by the end of the month. But we do hope we could have it done by the end of July.

“The miscalculation by the first set of evaluators by using the wrong adjustment factor caused a lot of delay.

“The valuation firm kept coming back saying that they didn’t think it was the right way to do it, but the Government tells you which one to use. We did hope that things would have moved on but sadly they have not moved on enough.”

It means the audit, which was originally supposed to cost £71k, is now at £150k and could continue to grow.

Chief finance officer for the council, Stuart McGregor, told councillors: “We can’t change things but we can improve things, and we have had robust discussions with KPMG and LGSS.”

Audit committee chair Councillor Mary Markham said: “The cost is building and we have lost money in the process. This highlights not having someone asset managing and it has to be an area to be a priority otherwise we will be sat here next year with the same issue.”