Audit Scotland gives council’s 2018/19 accounts a clean bill of health

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Audit Scotland has given Inverclyde Council’s annual accounts for 2018/19 a clean bill of health and praised the authority for its work to close the gender pay gap and the poverty related attainment gap - work described as ‘sector leading and life changing’.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, Leader of Inverclyde Council, said, “The public often has a negative view of local authorities but the reality is that councils are incredibly complex, multi-million pound organisations that deliver a huge range of services that touch every part of every citizen’s life.

“This report shows that Inverclyde Council is an effective, efficient organisation that performs very well in comparison with other Scottish local authorities. It is an organisation which works for local people and for its employees.

“In 2018/19 Inverclyde’s children achieved some of their best exam results ever. The percentage of pupils, living in the 20% most deprived areas of Inverclyde, who gained five or more awards at Level 5, was up from 41% to 46%.

“We have actively reduced the gender pay gap year-on-year over the past three years and we were one of the first councils in Scotland to introduce the new Living Wage rate.

“This report also shows that Inverclyde Council is a lean organisation. Between 2013/14 and 2019/20, Inverclyde has seen its funding drop by £13.9million in real terms. There is no fat to trim and further cuts will take us down to the bone. This is clearly something that Audit Scotland recognises. The Scottish Government should take note so that Inverclyde Council can continue to be ‘sector leading’ and ‘life changing’.”

Audit Scotland acknowledged the hard decisions that had to be made in 2018/19 and acknowledged the success of the cross-party working arrangements that were put in place to deliver the £3m in savings that were needed, ‘The council’s Members’ Budget Working Group (MBWG) has continued to work together successfully. Difficult decisions have been made after careful consideration and debate across political parties. This includes increases in fees and charges and loss of posts.’

The report also recognised the difficult financial position the council faces in the future with an estimated £19 million of further savings required over the next three years, ‘The council is facing several challenges in maintaining a sustainable financial position over the medium to long term. Given the volume of savings [required] there will be an impact on the council workforce with some areas potentially seeing quite significant reductions if savings proposals are approved.’

The council’s financial management and reporting ‘are effective’ and financial system controls were described as, ‘operating effectively in most areas, but there are weaknesses in payroll.’ However these weaknesses did not lead to any losses and have now been addressed.

The council’s 2018/19 budget was £188 million; this included savings targets of £3 million all of which were achieved.

Page last updated: 16 October 2019