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South Kesteven District Council in clear over finances but warned of 'tough' times ahead

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Auditors have finally given South Kesteven District Council a clean bill of financial health.

Accountancy company Grant Thornton had in July refused to issue its 'value for money conclusion' until it has assessed the impact of the departure of former chief executive Aidan Rave.

Grant Thornton says it has now completed its studies and can now issue "an unqualified value for money conclusion."

Aidan Rave (17065051)
Aidan Rave (17065051)

In a report prepared for councillors meeting on Wednesday, the auditors said experience elsewhere shows that a high level of turnover of the most senior officers "can be indicative of fundamental issues with a council's governance and decision-making."

The report concluded: "Based on the work we have performed to address the significant risk, we are satisfied that the council had proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources."

It also commented: "We are now satisfied that there is no significant risk to our value-for-money conclusion arising from the departure of the statutory officers.

"We were also encouraged to note a number of positive developments in relation to the council's governance, including improvements being made to the arrangements for the governance of council companies, a wide-ranging review of the council's constitution which is now underway and a forthcoming external review of the council's governance to be carried out by a former chief executive from a large council elsewhere."

However, Grant Thornton has also warned of "a challenging future" due to cuts in grants given to the council despite growing demand for its services.

South Kesteven District Council (17063741)
South Kesteven District Council (17063741)

"The authority needs to make tough decisions ahead to deliver balanced budgets over the coming years, but also maintain strict budgetary control to minimise overspends and continue to monitor delivery of savings targets tightly."

The auditor also commented: "The council has developed commercial and transformation programmes as set out in its Corporate Strategy and is implementing these initiatives in order to reduce operating costs and increase income streams over the medium term. While this is position is far less severe than that faced by many authorities, it will still require careful planning and management."

Governance and Audit Committee on Wednesday will also receive a report on an internal audit of council activities.

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