12/02/2022

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

“TEETHING problems” were blamed for any issues with unidentified payments to the council – with some residents potentially received court demands for bills they had actually paid.

Cllr Jacob Williams raised concerns about payments not being recorded by the council and this leading to people being “threatened with court action” at governance and audit committee on Tuesday (September 27).

Director of finance Jon Haswell said that a new financial management system was implemented last year – as referenced in a later item on the committee’s agenda as a reason for a delay in publishing the council accounts – and “there were some teething troubles.”

Mr Haswell explained that it “took longer to clear the suspense account than we would like,” although there would usually be payments waiting to be cleared from that account as a matter of course.

He also said changes to payment methods during lockdown, when customer services centres were shut, resulted in some electronic payments being made without “sufficient references.”

Mr Haswell was not able to answer Cllr Williams about whether anyone had been taken to or threatened with court but said “when we do a court run there will be some people that say they have paid” and as a matter of course those cases are withdrawn while checks are made.

He added that “a couple” of former staff had been working part time to provide additional capacity, partly to do with long term sickness absences in the department.

Cllr Williams said “it sounds like more than teething problems” and he hoped no threatening letters or prosecution would be issued to those that had paid, even if there were teething problems.

The committee noted that hat the council’s statement of accounts for 2021-22  that should have been drafted by the end of August have been delayed.

The reasons given for this delay is “primarily due to the implementation of the new Financial Information Management System (FIMS) and related feeder systems during 2021-22,” a report to committee states.

It adds that additional work required on asset valuations required by Audit Wales, long term absence of key finance staff, the “continued impact of processing Covid -19 and year end 2021-22 grant claims,” have also added to the delay.

“It is anticipated that the Draft Statement of Accounts will be produced by 17 October 2022, following which they will be subject to public inspection and external audit by Audit Wales. The Audited Statement of Accounts will be presented to the Governance and Audit Committee for review on 29 November 2022, prior to being submitted to Council for approval on 15 December 2022,” the report adds.

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