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Praise from Audit Wales for good set of accounts from Powys County Council

POWYS finance chiefs will be grinning from ear to ear following praise from Audit Wales for producing a “good set of accounts” last year

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Governance and Audit committee on Friday, November 24, members were presented with the 2022/2023 draft accounts for approval.

The council budget for last year was £301.872 million and they finished the year having spent £297.688 million, which left a surplus of £4.184 million.

Of the total budget £102.420 million came from Council Tax.

Derwyn Jones of Audit Wales said: “We propose to give an unqualified opinion on your accounts – they do show a true and fair view of the council’s transactions and of the balances and liabilities at the year end.”

“I would go further and say they are a good set of accounts which is great to see.

“The cooperation we have received from the council has been excellent in the way they supported us in the audit over the last few weeks.”

“The one recommendation we are making is just to tighten procedures around capital expenditure and the identification of non-enhancing expenditure.”

He added that the Auditor General, Adrian Crompton is due to sign off the accounts this month.

Jane Thomas Head Of Finance – Powys County Council

Head of finance Jane Thomas said: “We are entering quite a challenging period in terms of public sector finances.

“We have really focussed on an any opportunity to look at our own financial resilience and we have increased our reserves at the end of last year.”

The accounts show that council’s reserves received an extra £4.456 million.

This means that the total “earmarked” reserves that the council had at the end of March was £54.661 million.

Ms Thomas said: “We are relatively low in terms of our reserves when you compare ourselves with other (Welsh) authorities.”

She explained that high inflation and higher than expected national pay awards had put pressure on this year’s budget – but the council had taken the opportunity last year to set aside some money to deal with those pressures.

“That has stood us in good stead,” said Ms Thomas.

Committee chairwoman and lay member Lynne Hamilton said: “I welcome this and thank you for the comments.”

She added that not all public bodies receive praise for their accounts.

For a four week period in September and October, the draft accounts were open to scrutiny from the public.

Cllr Chris Walsh asked how many people had been to look at the accounts this year?

Financial reporting and policy accountants Dan Paley said: “No one came to question the accounts.”

Cllr Walsh said: “Have we had engagement in that process in previous years.

“Are we an outlier in not having any engagement.”

Mr Paley said: “In previous years we have had people in, but they are few and far between.”

The committee voted to approve the accounts which will be formally signed off by Ms Hamilton and Ms Thomas.

The accounts will then be published on the council website by the end of December.