Manchester Council audit delayed by months due to ‘a few transactions’ entered incorrectly

The annual audit of the Manchester Council’s accounts has been delayed by months due to a ‘few transactions’ entered incorrectly.

Auditors Mazars was to sign the accounts from last financial year and present the results to the audit committee at a meeting this week.

But Mazar senior manager Alistair Newall told councilors on Tuesday (November 23) that the audit may not be completed until February.

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Tom Wilkinson, deputy treasurer of the Manchester Council, told the committee that the delay was caused by errors in the accounts.

He said, however, that the reason for the delay was that a key employee had been off work for six weeks with ‘long-term illness’ due to a hip operation.

Labor Councilor Sarah Russell

Labor councilor Sarah Russell asked why this error had become such a big issue, questioning why it could take another two months to resolve.

She said: “If this is a one-line posting in the accounts, I just do not understand why this has become such a problem.

“I understand that a key employee was vacant, but she probably has deputies.

She added: “You look pretty uncomfortable. I do not understand why. Sometimes things go wrong and accidents happen. It’s not catastrophic.

“Is that one of those things, or is there a fundamental problem here? And if there is a fundamental problem, what is the fundamental problem?”

The deputy city treasurer explained that some payments to the council on the last day of the financial year did not appear in the final accounts in the first instance.

The local authority noticed the error and reported it to the external auditor.

But the external auditor told the committee that this was not the only problem.

A report from Mazars explained that some inquiries raised with the town hall and the three external appraisers in relation to the valuation of the municipality’s land, buildings and investment properties have not yet been answered.

These entries in the financial statements involve ‘complex accounting estimates’ and are therefore classified as a ‘significant audit risk’ according to the report.

Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter for Salford and Wigan at the Manchester Evening News

Jo is a Local Democracy Reporter covering councils, the NHS and other public services in Manchester and Greater Manchester.

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When the audit is completed, the audit committee must sign the accounts.

Sir. Newall said he could not assure the committee that the audit would be completed before it meets in January, so it can not be signed until February.

He said: “We are making progress. I hope we have time to report before the end of January.

“Hopefully, if we get good answers to the queries and we are able to move forward with the work, then it should be possible to deliver.”

There are no financial sanctions or penalties if the audited accounts of the local authorities are not completed and signed before the deadline, Mr Newall added.

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