Dover District Council accuses Covid of failing to publish annual accounts

A Kent council blamed Covid for its failure to publish how millions of pounds of taxpayer money have been spent.

Dover District Council says the pandemic has prevented it from releasing its annual accounts which provide a full breakdown of the authority’s spending for 2020-2021.

Dover District Council has yet to say how it has spent millions of pounds of taxpayer money

Boards are required by law to publish their statement of accounts and have them signed by external auditors.

They can be viewed by the public for a set period of time, typically three to four weeks, and objections and requests can be made by “interested persons” – mostly municipal taxpayers.

However, the authority published a note on its website stating that the delay had occurred “due to the continued impact of Covid-19” and that, therefore, the audit has not yet been concluded by its auditors Grant Thornton LLP.

The memo goes on to say that the accounts would be released “as soon as it is reasonably possible to do so.”

He refers to the impact Covid has had on both in terms of the ease with which hard copies of the recordings can be retrieved.

Covid has been blamed for Dover District Council's failure to release its annual statement of accounts
Covid has been blamed for Dover District Council’s failure to release its annual statement of accounts

The accounts detail how much the council spent during the year as well as the revenues it received – including municipal taxes and business rates and government grants.

While it is not unusual for accounts to be delayed, Dover appears to be the only authority in Kent to be in trouble.

In a note published on its website, the council states: “The delay is due to the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on resources and the audit of the statement of accounts for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2020 not yet in the process of being concluded.

“The Board continues to work closely with the Grant Thornton UK LLP audit team to resolve this situation.”

The council has been at the forefront of the ongoing challenge of managing the Brexit transition, including Operation Brock and Operation Stack traffic management systems, aimed at limiting disruption caused by new customs controls.

It also had to deal with the fallout from several days of traffic jam around the port between Christmas and New Years, which blocked hundreds of carriers after French authorities imposed a blockade and arrested drivers who could not produce a negative test for Covid.

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