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Town and Community Councils in Wales May Need Financial Management Support

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A concern has been raised that many of the 730 town and community councils in Wales may not have the financial management skills in place to properly manage public funds.

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said:

“This year alone I have had to issue twelve reports in the public interest, which highlight serious weaknesses in the financial management and governance and Town and Community Councils in Wales. This undermines public trust and can lead to a waste of public money. I call on all Town and Community councils to take heed and learn from the important lessons within these reports so that communities in Wales get the services and the assurance they rightly deserve.”

Two councils have incurred unlawful expenditure of over £290,000, according to reports issued by the Auditor General for Wales. In both reports, significant deficiencies in procurement arrangements were found, with neither council having in place proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency nor effectiveness in their use of resources.

Buckley Town Council in North Wales has incurred expenditure totalling £153,898 on two cleaning contracts, and expenditure of £116,064 in the appointment of its Town Centre Manager. In these instances, the council was found to have failed to comply with its own standing orders. In doing so, the council incurred unlawful expenditure totalling £269,962.

Mumbles Community Council in West Wales was found to have significantly overspent its budget in relation to planning consultancy services and in so doing, had failed to comply with its own Standing Orders and Financial Regulations. The council incurred expenditure of £21,400 which was, according to the report, contrary to law.

The reports make a number of recommendations to the councils, including the review of:

  • Standing orders to remove any ambiguity
  • Procurement process to ensure compliance
  • Contract terms of reference

Both councils have been issued with a qualified audit opinion.

Auditor General, Adrian Crompton said:

“This year alone I have had to issue twelve reports in the public interest, which highlight serious weaknesses in the financial management and governance and Town and Community Councils in Wales. This undermines public trust and can lead to a waste of public money. I call on all Town and Community councils to take heed and learn from the important lessons within these reports so that communities in Wales get the services and the assurance they rightly deserve.”