Auditors are unable to sign off Nottingham City Council’s accounts for the year 2019-2020 – eight months after they should have been published.
One reason for the hold-up is the on-going issue of former council company Robin Hood Energy, which collapsed in January 2020 having lost Nottingham taxpayers more than £34m.
Last year a damning public report accused the council of “institutional blindness” as it used millions of pounds of public money to prop up the energy company it set up in 2015.
Auditors from accountancy firm Grant Thornton say the other reason for the delay in finalising the 2019-2020 accounts is that they have not been given “full information relating to asset values”.
They want to know how the council arrived at its valuations for 75 specialist properties, including Wollaton Hall, Nottingham Tennis Centre and Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall.
The deadline for publication of the full 2019-2020 audit was November 30, 2020.
At an audit committee meeting on Friday, July 30, officers revealed these two items are still delaying the 2019-2020 audit – and are now having the knock-on effect of preventing full publication of a draft statement of the council’s accounts for 2020-2021.
The statement of accounts explains in detail what money the council has actually received and what it has spent. It is a statutory duty to publish this record.
A report to the committee said: “The conclusion of the 2019/20 audit has been delayed due to two issues which are now impacting on the completion of the 2020/21 Statement of Accounts.
“There are 75 specialist assets which have not been valued for 2020/21.
“The council no longer has the expertise to undertake this specialist work in house and this activity is now being externally resourced.
“Following the strategic review of Robin Hood Energy the council disposed of its interest in Robin Hood Energy.
“The customer base has been sold and the company entered administration on 5th January 2021. It was no longer under the control of the Council as at 31 March 2021.
“Discussions are ongoing with Grant Thornton in respect of the presentation and disclosure within the Group Accounts which provides the necessary assurance to enable Grant Thornton to take a view within accounting standards.”
The report said the rest of the council’s statement of accounts for 2020-2021 would be published on its website, with a notice explaining the outstanding issues.
Council officers were unable to give members of the audit committee a date on which the issues would be resolved.
Nottingham City Council’s 2018-2019 accounts were not signed off until July 2020.