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16th Jun, 2021

'Difficult decisions' result in auditors lifting Section 24 notice

Redditch Editorial 10th Mar, 2021 Updated: 10th Mar, 2021

DIFFICULT decision-making and effective budgeting have seen Redditch Borough Council’s auditors remove the ‘Section 24’ notice which was issued following concerns over the authority’s finances.

At a meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee, external auditors Grant Thornton presented a report on the council’s finances which said: “the Council had proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.”

The Section 24 notice was issued in 2019 after alarm bells were rung when the Conservative-controlled authority decided against raising council tax as much as anticipated, and awarded members an increase in allowances.

Amid fears from the auditors that the council was in danger of running out of money, members were forced to look at the books and implement difficult decisions to ensure council coffers stayed solvent.

In their latest report the auditors added: “We are satisfied that the authority put in place proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year ended March 31, 2020.”

Redditch Borough Council’s portfolio holder for finance, Councillor David Thain said: “We are pleased with Grant Thornton’s findings, but realise that more hard work is yet to be done and more difficult decisions lie ahead, which we will not shy away from.

“Grant Thornton’s report is testament to the hard work put in by our finance team and we will continue on this path to take the council from strength to strength.”

Council Leader Matt Dormer added: “It has been a challenging time but I am grateful that councillors and officers could work collaboratively with one outcome in mind – to unlock this borough’s potential for everyone to enjoy.

“And we will not be complacent but continue to make brave and measured decisions to keep on moving forward.”

The news of Redditch’s success comes as the National Audit Office warns that 94 per cent of English councils expect to make spending cuts this year.

The NAO is calling on the government to make long term reforms to stabilise council finances in the years ahead.

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