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Fenland District Council's accounts audit delayed by issues at external auditors

The annual audit of Fenland District Council’s accounts has been delayed by up to four months due to resource issues at external auditors, Ernst & Young LLP.

The council’s draft statement of accounts and financial records for the year ending March 31, 2019, were due to be audited in July, ready to be published by the statutory July 31 deadline for accounts to be signed off.

But due to “resource pressures” at Ernst & Young, the council has been informed that its accounts will not be audited until October.

Councillor Chris Boden. (14454643)
Councillor Chris Boden. (14454643)

The Council is one of number of authorities to have been affected by the delay, including the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Councillor Chris Boden, council leader, said: “Non- publication of our accounts is by no way a reflection of the council’s financial standing or governance arrangements – both of which remain strong and robust. The council closed its accounts in line with the statutory deadline of May 31 and was ready for the audit to commence in July 2019.”

A letter to the council from Mark Hodgson, Associate Partner at Ernst & Young LLP, in June said: “As your auditors we try to conduct our work in as timely a manner as possible, having regard to your (statutory) responsibilities. With tighter time-scales across the sector, and having encountered a number of audit issues on the Major Local Audits (MLA’s) that we commenced in June, we are not able to resource your audit this month, as we seek to complete those audits that we have started.

“Whilst we always strive to provide excellent client service, my first priority must be to safeguard the quality of the audits provided, and avoid putting our professional standards at risk. I apologise for the inconvenience that the rescheduling of your audit may cause.”

The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 state that authorities must publish their final statement of accounts no later than July 31. But when an audit has not been concluded before that date, they must be published “as soon as reasonably practicable after the receipt of any report from the auditor which contains the auditor’s final findings from the audit”. For more information on the regulations visit: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/234/regulation/10/made

The council’s corporate governance committee is now due to consider the results of the 2018/19 audit at its meeting on November 5, after which the final audited accounts will be published.

The council’s draft statement of accounts was published on it’s website by the required deadline ( May 2019) and these remain available at: www.fenland.gov.uk/media/15669/Unaudited-Statement-of-Accounts-2018-19/pdf/Statement_of_Accounts_2018-19.pdf

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