Croydon will hold an extraordinary full council meeting next week to discuss the Report in the Public Interest from the council’s external auditors and the council’s action plan to respond to its recommendations.
The Extraordinary Council Meeting will take place on Thursday 19 November at 6.30pm, and due to Covid-19 restrictions will be held virtually. The meeting will be webcast live here and papers have been published on the council’s website here.
The Report in the Public Interest, issued by Grant Thornton on 23 October, outlined serious concerns about the council’s current financial situation and its governance over a number of years. Croydon Council has fully accepted all the findings of the report and following her appointment on 22 October, newly-elected council leader Councillor Hamida Ali apologised and pledged to put things right.
The report makes 20 recommendations for change, of which eight are high priority. In response the council has developed an action plan to address all the auditors’ recommendations and is also suggesting some additional recommendations for other improvements.
As part of the action plan the council plans to set up an independently-chaired improvement board to offer independent challenge and help to guide the range of improvement activities that the council has begun to undertake.
The full action plan, which can be viewed here, sets out proposals for tighter controls on spending, improved risk management, increased monitoring, robust governance arrangements and greater transparency – right across the organisation.
Prior to the report, Croydon had already taken steps to tackle its financial challenges. Actions in progress include:
• Delivering a £24m package of savings during 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.
“My absolute priority, as the new leader, is to tackle Croydon’s financial challenges, get the council back on a stable footing and change the way we do things so that we deliver quality services in a way that is financially sustainable.
“As a council we are fully committed to implementing the changes and improvements to address the recommendations made by the auditor as swiftly as we can, and to learn from our mistakes.
“First we must come together as a whole council, to address the serious criticisms contained within the auditors’ report and agree a way forward to ensure that this can never happen again. It will be an extremely important step on our improvement journey.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council