Croydon Council has fully accepted the findings and all the recommendations of a report from its external auditor, which highlights serious concerns around the borough’s financial position and governance.
Published today at www.croydon.gov.uk/publicinterest, the Report in the Public Interest from Grant Thornton raises serious concerns about the borough’s financial position and governance, and makes 20 recommendations for change.
Councillor Hamida Ali, who was appointed as the new leader of the council on Thursday (22 October), apologised over the findings and vowed to urgently address the areas of concern.
“This report highlights serious issues with how the council has managed its finances in recent years. These problems have deep roots, but I am sorry we got things wrong and I want to reassure our residents, staff and partners that my absolute priority as the council’s newly-elected leader is to put this right. While a decade of austerity and the Covid-19 crisis have had a major impact on our finances they do not excuse the issues this report has laid bare.
“The council fully accepts the findings and recommendations of this report and the council’s new leadership will take swift and decisive action to stabilise the council’s finances and governance. My new administration is committed to a new culture which puts transparency, accountability and value for money at its heart.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council
In response to the auditor’s report and recommendations, the council is developing a comprehensive action plan which will be discussed at a dedicated full council meeting. The action plan will set out how the council will significantly strengthen its financial resilience, decision-making and governance and fully address the findings of the report.
This will build on work already under way to tackle its financial challenges. Actions in progress include:
•Delivering a £42m package of savings this financial year
•Developing the Croydon Renewal Plan, which includes:
◦formally seeking a loan (capitalisation direction) from the Government in order to balance this year’s budget and enable the council’s transition to a sustainable budget over the next three years
◦a review of the capital programme
◦an independent review of the council’s group of companies and entities.
Councillor Ali said: “The council has already taken significant steps to control our budget and more will be required in the coming months. The whole council must now come together to address the criticisms in the auditor’s report. I will set out proposals in the Croydon Renewal Plan to show how we will transform our organisation into one that is financially sustainable and rebuild the outstanding public services Croydon’s residents expect and deserve.”
The council received the report at 17.20 today and has published immediately after.