External auditors have offered only a “qualified” judgement on Labour run York Council’s 2013/14 accounts due to failings in adult social care.
At last night’s meeting of the council’s Audit & Governance Committee it was confirmed that auditors Mazars would only offer a “qualified” judgement on the council’s accounts, specifically their ‘Value for Money’ assessment.
A report presented to the committee said there were “weaknesses in budgetary control and financial management in Adult Social Care services….a lack of understanding and ownership of budgets….and performance information was limited”.
It said “during 2013/14 the service did not demonstrate an ability to address the issues that it faced” and financial arrangements in place were “not strong enough”.
The final announcement comes in the wake of serious delays in a number of social care projects.
Key amongst these are plans to construct a state of the art centre on the Lowfields school site which would have made the service more efficient.
The project is 3 years behind scheduled and Labour Councillors have refused to reveal why, although no formal contract for the facility has yet been advertised for tender.
Cllr Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and a member of the Audit & Governance Committee, commented:
“This qualified opinion confirms Labour’s complete mismanagement of the adult social care budget. Promised savings have not been delivered and the department has failed to respond to pressures such as demographic changes.
“The most basic task of a council is to ensure that it is spending public money wisely and securing value for money for residents. This assessment shows that in York under Labour this is not happening. It is the first time that this judgement has happened to the council in its history. It is an utter embarrassment for the Council Leader to sign his name to accounts that don’t provide value for money.
“It also appears that the failure to control budgets is having a knock-on effect as frontline services are now being cut, such as the recent announcement that lunchtime meals for the elderly will end in some sheltered housing schemes like Gale Farm Court. Meanwhile the Elderly People’s Home project remains in utter disarray.
“Labour continually blame the coalition government for local cuts, but as this report makes clear Labour need to get their own house in order and start using the budgets they have more wisely.”
A webcast of last night’s Audit & Governance Committee meeting can be found here: http://www.york.gov.uk/webcasts – 44 minutes in auditors confirm to Cllr Ayre that they are offering a “qualified” judgement.