Just one in 10 councils publish accounts voters are meant to see with dozens failing to file any audited accounts in the last four years in ‘transparency crisis’
- Just 31 out of around 380 major councils released audited accounts for last year
Hundreds of councils are failing to publish their accounts – some for years – at a time when many are teetering on the brink of disaster.
An audit found less than one in ten town halls have published fully audited accounts for 2022/23, leading to what campaigners have called a ‘transparency crisis’.
Just 31 of around 380 major (non-parish or village) councils released audited accounts for the last financial year – not one in Labour-run Wales.
And 27 have failed to file any audited accounts for the last four years. Town halls have a statutory duty to publish audited accounts annually.
Residents have a legal right to inspect and challenge their local authority’s books.
The last time Labour-run Birmingham City (pictured) and Liberal Democrat-controlled Woking councils published audited accounts was in 2019/20. Both recently declared bankruptcy
The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Elliot Keck (pictured), who led the research, said: ‘The failure to file accounts is causing a transparency crisis in local government’
The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Elliot Keck, who led the research, said: ‘The failure to file accounts is causing a transparency crisis in local government. It’s unacceptable that struggling Brits have to stump up for growing council tax bills when their town hall bosses either won’t or can’t show them what they’re spending their money on.
‘Local government chiefs should treat taxpayers with greater respect and file accounts on time.’
The last time Labour-run Birmingham City and Liberal Democrat-controlled Woking councils published audited accounts was in 2019/20. Both recently declared bankruptcy.
Earlier this month the Local Government Association warned councils are facing a £4billion black hole over the next two years.
In 2022/23, 31 councils published audited accounts, 252 posted draft (non-audited and changeable) statements and 97 released nothing. Some 658 audited statements are overdue over the last four financial years.
Councillor Pete Marland, from the LGA, claimed that ‘delays in audit’ were to blame, adding: ‘Councils are deeply frustrated that accounts they have worked hard to prepare have not been audited by external bodies. [Resolving] it will take a concerted response from… the Government, audit firms and regulators.’
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