Published: 08:39, 23 November 2021
| Updated: 15:47, 23 November 2021
A Kent council has blamed Covid for its failure to publish how millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been spent.
Dover District Council says that the pandemic has left it unable to publish its annual accounts that provide a comprehensive breakdown of the authority’s expenditure for 2020-21.
Councils are required by law to publish their Statement of Accounts and to have them signed off by external auditors.
They are available for public inspection for a specified period of usually three to four weeks and objections and queries can be made by “interested persons” – in the main, council taxpayers.
However, the authority posted a note on its website saying the delay had arisen “due to the on-going impact of Covid-19” and as a result the audit has not yet been concluded by its auditors Grant Thornton LLP.
The note goes on to say the accounts would be published “as soon as it was reasonably practical to do so”.
It refers to the impact Covid has had on both when it came to the ease with which hard copies of records could be retrieved.
The accounts detail how much the council has spent over the year along with how much income it has received - including council tax 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 experiencing difficulties.
In a note published on its website, the council states: “The delay has arisen due to the on-going impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on resources and the audit of the Statement of Accounts for the year ended March 31, 2020 not yet being concluded.
"The council is continuing to work closely with the audit team at Grant Thornton UK LLP to resolve this situation.”
The council has been at the sharp end of the continuing challenge of managing the Brexit transition, notably the traffic management systems Operation Brock and Operation Stack, aimed at limiting the disruption caused by new customs checks.
It also had to deal with the fallout from several days of gridlock around the port between Christmas and the New Year, which stranded hundreds of hauliers after the French authorities imposed a blockade and stopped drivers who could not produce a negative test for Covid.