The council has spent another £139,000 attempting to finalise its long-delayed accounts, taking its overspend on auditing to well over £300,000.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) was forced to spend the money on revaluations of its property assets due to changes in the property market since they were last valued.

The 2016/17 accounts are expected to be submitted to auditors by the end of this week, and the council hopes they will be signed off by Ernst & Young (EY) by mid-February.

A council spokesman said: “The delay in signing off the 16/17 and 17/18 accounts are the result of historic failures by the council to meet good accounting practice and control standards, as outlined in the E&Y report.

“The council has fully acknowledged these past failures and put in place measures to ensure they are addressed going forward.”

EY’s Maria Grindley could not confirm the date when the 2016/17 audit would be complete, stating that she was reliant on RBC providing the necessary information.

The 16/17 Accounts should have been audited and signed off by the end of September 2017.

Due to the council failing to record its spending properly, the accounts could not be verified.

The 2017/18 and 2018/19 accounts are now expected to be completed in spring and autumn respectively.

RBC hope this timeframe will enable the following year’s accounts to be on time.

The September 2018 report on the council’s accounts stated that costs of auditing would be £300,000 more than the originally anticipated auditing fee of £108,938.

This is now expected to be ‘at least £300,000 more’, with the additional spending on revaluations potentially taking the total spend figure to more than £500,000.

RBC has undertaken a major restructure of its accounting system, but only expects to see the benefit from this in future accounts.

The authority is now performing well at recording its spending in recent months, according to the council’s internal audit quarterly report, presented at the Audit and Governance committee on Thursday, January 24.

The council's spokesman added that the council is ‘reassured’ that learning from the closure of the 16/17 accounts is being taken forward into preparation for the subsequent year’s accounts.