AUDITOR: COUNCIL IT SYSTEMS 'NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE'
The Council's auditors have told Members that the finance department's IT systems are not fit for purpose.
That view was expressed by Geraldine Daly, an associate director of auditors Grant Thornton, who are tasked with signing off the Council's statement of accounts for 2015/16.
The accounts are still to be signed off as the Council is waiting on the District Valuer to complete the re-evaluation process of Council assets. It was acknowledged, however, that the majority of re-evaluations were concluded at the end of March.
The auditors stated they would like to obtain a listing of the £2.1m debtors in order to perform testing in that area but the systems have proved problematic, despite the best efforts of the staff.
A review of the debtors is essential as it will have an impact on the auditor's final analysis of the Council's finances.
Councillor Christine Savill told Members: "I don't think we will make any step forwards until we spend money on them (the IT systems). We have to invest money to save money. It's not just about human resources."
It is expected that the accounts will be signed off at the next full meeting of Council in December.
Cllr Steve Sims, chair of the Finance & Scrutiny Committee, said: "I completely agree with Geraldine's view that the council finance software is not fit for purpose. This creates immense problems for a very under-resourced finance team, who are struggling to stay in the same place when they desperately want to move forward.
"I hope the partial integration of finance with Cornwall will circumnavigate this bottleneck. The Council, in the face of very draconian cuts from Whitehall, has been unable to resource the finance department adequately in order to protect front line services.
"Overall in the circumstances the interim audit report is positive in that all the fundamentals are in place, but clearly work still needs to be done.
"To reassure the public, the '2.1m debtors' is an accountancy issue. The figures have not yet been reconciled, another issue with the authority's finance software. The Council is not actually owed this sum."