“Economic, efficient and effective” - Audit of South Somerset District Council shows finances are secure as Transformation continues

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An audit is the review of an organisation's financial statements. It is carried out by a qualified, independent person who gives an opinion on whether those statements have been prepared in accordance with the specified requirements. The audit is an essential tool for giving assurance that bodies are spending public money efficiently and effectively, and that is exactly what SSDC is doing.

Independent auditor Grant Thornton UK has completed its audit of SSDC and concluded that the accounts are “true and fair” and the Council has "proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources", in other words how we deliver value for money to taxpayers. It comes as the Council continues to move ahead with its Transformation and Commercial programme to make SSDC fit for the future and ensure it can deliver for its communities with no cuts to services.

In its report, Grant Thornton said: "We are satisfied that in all significant respects, SSDC put in place proper arrangement to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year ending 31 March, 2019."

The report was presented to the SSDC's Audit committee on 25 July 2019 and recognised that this good work was being achieved in the Transformation programme which is designed to deliver savings while maintaining excellent service for our communities.

The Council is currently operating in a complex financial climate, where between 2018 and 2022, it needs to deliver savings rising to £6 million per year. SSDC has cut its costs by £12 million per year since 2010, having sustained a 70 per cent cut in Government grant funding over that period, further reductions are likely in the future whilst demand for and costs of many services continues to rise.

In order to achieve these savings without cutting services - like our planning service, the way we deliver benefits, our play parks and beautiful public spaces like Yeovil Country Park and Chard Reservoir - it was decided that change was needed. Our aim for Transformation is to build a Council that works as one team, is ambitious for South Somerset and the communities we serve, and is financially secure.

Councillor Peter Seib South Somerset District Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “A clean audit is always welcome, but this one has been achieved whilst the Council faced the extra challenges of Transformation. The Council's staff have been under pressure in the last year, but they still found time to attend to details, including accurate accounts. The audit also reflects positively on the Council’s commercial activity which is providing essential additional income to deliver services and ensure the Council remains financially resilient.

“This is the taxpayer's money and the Council's focus is getting the best value and being able to tell you how it was spent. I'm pleased the Auditors have said we achieved that last year and I would particularly like to thank all the staff who have made this result possible.”

You can find out more about our Transformation programme using our Transformation guide.

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