The council’s long-awaited accounts have been delayed once again, with the total overspend on auditing its accounts reaching more than £439,000.

The 2016/17 accounts and are now expected to be ready by the end of this month, with the 2017/18 accounts to follow at the end of May or in early June.

At January’s Audit & Governance (A&G) committee, Reading Borough Council (RBC) officers announced that they anticipated the accounts would be submitted for audit in late January and signed off by mid-February.

The accounts were submitted in early March, however, after a further delay due to issues with the council’s valuations of its housing.

Speaking at last night’s (Tuesday, April 17) meeting, Matthew Davis, head of finance, said he believes the council has dealt with all issues now.

Auditor Ernst & Young (EY) will now decide whether everything is sufficiently in order.

Jackie Yates said the council is hopeful EY will sign off the 16/17 accounts by the end of April.

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

Due to problems with recording of spending and valuations the accounts could not be verified.

The initial expected fee for auditing the 16/17 accounts was £108,938. This has now risen by ‘at least £300,000’ with an additional £139,000 spent on additional valuation work for the 16/17 and 17/18 accounts.

Councillor Davies, vice chair of the A&G committee, said the council has not shied away from responsibility for failure to file accounts.

He said the major cause of the problems has been put right now.

The accounts will be qualified due to insufficient evidence to prove creditor and debtor balances at the end of 16/17.

Jackie Yates, director of resources, said: “There are some qualifications, but we are improving process and hoping that we will be able to resolve all these issues and have unqualified accounts going forward.”

The authority is now performing well at recording its spending in recent months, according to the council’s internal audit quarterly report from January.