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Council to outline response to auditor's concerns

Council and democracy

Monday, 11 September 2023
Middlesbrough Town Hall

Middlesbrough Council will outline how it plans to escalate its response to an auditor’s concerns at a meeting next week.

Since summer 2022, staff and elected members have worked together to improve the culture, governance and financial resilience of the organisation.

The work started in response to issues highlighted by the Council’s external auditor in its 2020/21 accounts.

Last month auditors EY made 11 statutory recommendations to the Council.

EY has assessed that while there are signs of improvement in the pace at which “significant cultural and governance weaknesses” are being addressed, the overall progress is not sufficient.

The auditor’s latest report reflects its view of the period from November 2022 to August 2023.

In addition to the historic cultural and governance issues, three further significant weaknesses have been identified. These are in relation to financial sustainability, contracting and procurement and Middlesbrough Development Company.

EY’s report will be presented to all councillors on September 18 alongside phase three of the Council’s governance improvement plan.

The plan, developed by officers and members with the support of EY, government and the Local Government Association, concentrates on two themes: cultural transformation and financial recovery and resilience.

An Independent Improvement Advisory Board, made up of external and experienced senior officers and politicians, will be formed to provide oversight and challenge.

Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke said: “Having been in the job for four months, I’m now confident we’re in a position to tackle these issues once and for all.

“It’s clear in the auditor’s report that not enough progress has been made in responding to their serious concerns.

“This council has to be focused on delivering the best possible services for residents and that’s what I’m determined we’ll do.

“We’ll respond positively and properly to the auditor’s recommendations and make sure we use our stretched resources as effectively as possible.

“We’re grateful for the support of government, EY and the Local Government Association and look forward to working with the new advisory board to put these matters right.”