Council pays £40,000 for probe into finance

This Is Wiltshire: SCS gritting the roads around Swindon after heavy snowfall last month SCS gritting the roads around Swindon after heavy snowfall last month

SWINDON Council has spent £40,000 commissioning experts to investigate the financial management and reporting arrangements of Swindon Commercial Services Ltd after a £1m downturn in predicted income from the public services firm.

SCS, based at Waterside Park, Cheney Manor Industrial Estate, is wholly owned by the council, which budgeted to receive a forecast dividend of £3.6m in 2012/13.

However, the latest figures, up to November, show that SCS is now projecting a return of £2.6m, a reduction of £300,000 from the previous month. Swindon Council says the most significant reason is a sharp dip in prices obtained for recyclable materials.

The reduced SCS income is a key reason for a predicted £992,000 overspend in the council’s revenue budget for 2012/13, which it hopes to plug by the end of March through a number of measures, including using £570,000 from reserves.

In response, Cabinet and SCS jointly commissioned Price-waterhouseCoopers (PwC) to carry out an in-depth study into the firm’s financial probity, looking at aspects such as financial structures, levels of resources and reserves, and the allocation of costs, rather than the business model or individual managers.

Coun Mark Edwards, the cabinet member for finance, said the reasons for the slump were known and the investigation was to make recommendations to ensure the lower-than-predicted dividend was a blip rather than a trend.

He said: “It’s making sure that the finances of the organisation are robust and appropriate and everything is running in the right way. And it’s not about individuals, it’s about financial probity.

“We have got some people that want to make more of this than it is. It’s part of normal processes we do these things.

“A financial audit is incredibly detailed and we don’t have the skills to do it within the organisation. We don’t have the skills of PwC to do this kind of work. These guys do this all the time.”

Coun Des Moffatt, the Labour group’s lead on finance, said the council should have saved money by using its own internal auditors.

He said: “It’s a complete waste of money. It all comes from the same place and it gets spent doing the same thing. It’s just a different way of counting the beans, that’s all.”

Comments (6)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:31pm Thu 14 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

Good heavens do the council not have a Finance Director and staff, if they are not number crunching experts what are they employed to do.
Good heavens do the council not have a Finance Director and staff, if they are not number crunching experts what are they employed to do. RichardR1

12:44pm Thu 14 Feb 13

StillPav says...

Bloody hell, I agree with Des Moffatt. The council must have management accountants who can do this kind of work?
Bloody hell, I agree with Des Moffatt. The council must have management accountants who can do this kind of work? StillPav

12:46pm Thu 14 Feb 13

1 2 Could B says...

If SBC keep revealing stuff like this, they won't have anything left for April Fools Day
If SBC keep revealing stuff like this, they won't have anything left for April Fools Day 1 2 Could B

1:08pm Thu 14 Feb 13

mjey says...

simply showed what sort of staff they employee :-)
simply showed what sort of staff they employee :-) mjey

3:01pm Thu 14 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

Talking of accounts what happened to the Digital City ones that were going to be made available.
Talking of accounts what happened to the Digital City ones that were going to be made available. RichardR1

6:34pm Thu 14 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

Firstly, is anyone actually surprised about the downturn or the need to bring in people who know what they are doing as clearly SBC don't . Blind leading the blind comes to mind. Just what is it council managers actually do,it seems consultants do the work and the £40k a year managers sit in meetings all day trying not to be the one to make a decision.
Anyone who has ever worked there and then gone to the private sector will tell you that council managers wouldn't last a month in a proper competitive environment with deadlines and responsibility for their actions. A compete shambles from top to bottom.
Firstly, is anyone actually surprised about the downturn or the need to bring in people who know what they are doing as clearly SBC don't . Blind leading the blind comes to mind. Just what is it council managers actually do,it seems consultants do the work and the £40k a year managers sit in meetings all day trying not to be the one to make a decision. Anyone who has ever worked there and then gone to the private sector will tell you that council managers wouldn't last a month in a proper competitive environment with deadlines and responsibility for their actions. A compete shambles from top to bottom. house on the hill

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree