Torfaen council achieves record closure of accounts

28 Jul 2015 - 3:13pm

Successful scheme sees Council’s financial services department close yearly accounts 10 weeks ahead of schedule.

The Auditor General for Wales has today congratulated Torfaen County Borough Council for the early closure of their annual statement of accounts; the Council achieved this feat a full 10 weeks ahead of schedule meeting the early closure target that the Treasury wants to see all local government organisations move towards.

Working closely with their external auditors (Grant Thornton on behalf of the Auditor General) Torfaen Council are an early implementer of a new timetable around faster closure of accounts which it is hoped will provide a framework for other councils to follow as the Government looks to publish their Whole of Government Accounts, a process that depends crucially on public bodies in Wales being able to submit prompt and accurate returns to the Welsh Government.

The faster closure of these accounts is designed to improve financial management in the public sector, with an increasing need to report financial results as soon as possible during the year and after the year end. This supports improvements in resource management, decision making and risk management as well as supporting public bodies respond to regulation which brings forward the financial reporting deadlines.

The Auditor General for Wales and the Wales Audit Office have supported over 800 public bodies in Wales to produce timely financial reporting, recognising the importance of this information being both timely and informative to ensure that better decisions can be made by staff on behalf of these public bodies and the people they serve.
In support of this the Wales Audit Office’s Good Practice Exchange team will be running an event later in the year to share the lessons learned from Torfaen and similar schemes in England with local authorities, park authorities and police and fire authorities from across Wales.

David Lilly, Head of Financial Services at Torfaen County Borough Council, said today:

“We are very pleased to be able release our audited financial accounts so quickly, this information is vital for us in making the right decisions for the people of Torfaen. Having a clearer view of our finances means we can ensure that resources are used where they are needed most and we can do so with confidence.”

Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas said today:

“It is very encouraging to see how Torfaen Council have responded to this challenge. The importance of producing timely accounts will become even more vital when the Welsh Government starts producing whole of Government accounts so we are hopeful that other Councils in Wales will follow Torfaen’s lead. I would also encourage financial leads across all the public bodies in Wales to attend our shared learning seminars later this year so they can benefit from the lessons learned and the strong example set by the Council.”

The Good Practice Exchange in partnership with Grant Thornton UK LLP will be hosting the Faster Closure of LG Accounts Shared Learning Seminar in Cardiff on the 20 October 2015 and also in north Wales at Llanrwst on 11 November 2015. Email good.practice@audit.wales for further information.