Kent County Council (KCC) have made cuts of £514 million since 2010. This year 17/18 they will make another round of cuts of £76.7. This trend looks set to continue until 2019/20.
During this period of cuts, the Accounts for 2014/15 and 2015/16 have NOT received an Auditor’s Certificate, because of objections to the accounts. Mr Paul Hughes (pictured) of Grant Thornton is KCC’s Auditor. It would appear that he and Grant Thornton are having problems giving the two sets of accounts “a clean bill of health”.
The two sets of accounts remain in the Twilight Zone until the ongoing investigations are concluded by the Auditor. Also further objections for the accounts for 16/17 have been received which Mr Hughes will have to deal with.
Meanwhile since 2010/11, KCC have culled 3122 members of staff. Each of the members of staff have walked away/received with an “exit package“.
Exit packages include compulsory and voluntary redundancy costs, pension contributions in respect of added years, ex-gratia payments and other departure costs.
2032 employees or 65% received exit packages under £20,000
1090 employees or 35% received exit packages in excess of £20,001 up to £450,000
Meaning that for the last five financial years the overall sum of exit packages has cost the Kent Taxpayer just over £32.4 million, an average of £6.48 million a year.
While the exit packages were being given away, especially in 14/15 & 1516 no Audit Certificates have been received so we cannot say they numbers are correct as KCC’s Accounts have not been signed off for these years.
For books which have not received a “clean bill of health”, Cllr Paul Carter and his fellow Cllrs gave themselves a whooping 15% pay rise; which will take the annual bill for Cllrs costs over £2 million.
These two sets of accounts Cllr Carter and his colleagues are responsible for, must follow the CIPFA Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting, legislation and regulations. However, when reading the Code and the Legislation, it is clear none of KCC’s accounts adhere to them. Here’s an example:
exit packages agreed (grouped in rising bands of £20,000 up to £100,000 and bands of £50,000 thereafter) analysed between compulsory redundancies and other departures.
Unfortunately, the above does not comply with the Code of Practice or the Legislation. This is not a one off. In previous years KCC have got it wrong as well. There is banding from £20,001 – £40,000 and so on, but no banding for £50K boxes after £100,000 as there MUST be.
We are concerned that none of the sets of accounts between 2010/11 and 16/17 have followed the code of practice and/or the legislation which supports it.
Neither have Cllr Carter (pictured left) Leader of KCC & Cabinet Member for Traded Services & Health Reform, nor Cllr Simmonds, (pictured) Cabinet Member for Finance have got a grip on the detail of their accounts.
Nor do they have a grip on the two sets of accounts which have not received Audit Certificates. It is they who are ultimately responsible for the Accounts and the money as our elected representatives.
We cannot single out just Cllr Carter & Simmonds, we also have to make it clear that the CIPFA qualified, s151 Officer and Corporate Director of Finance, Mr Andy Wood, (pictured) who earned £167,327 (including pension) in 16/17, does not have effective arrangements for internal financial controls, nor a coherent plan for the management of audit and risk function. The Accounts; which it is his duty to prepare along with his team, do not conform to the Code of Practice and/or legislation.
Mr Wood is not being singled out. The Head of Paid Services, Mr David Cockburn (pictured) whose job it is to ensure the delivery of effective Finance, Governance & Law, also is responsible for the two sets of accounts not being signed off and many sets of accounts not conforming to the CIPFA Code of Practice and/or legislation. Mr Cockburn earned £243,149 in 2016/17.
It really is rather strange that two highly paid KCC Corporate Director’s do not have a grip on the accounts. Neither can either of them inform us about those accounts which hang in Limbo while they have no Audit Certificates.
The presentation of the accounts is cock-up not conspiracy, but when they can’t even get that right, it makes us nervous that much more is not right too.
After two years of hanging out in the Twilight Zone, the accounts should be collected and the people of Kent informed whether or not they have a “Clean Bill of Health”. Until we know whether KCC have dodgy accounts or not, we are all left in the Twilight Zone.
The Shepwayvox Team