£7,000 of cash has gone missing from a care home managed by Reading Borough Council (RBC).

The disappearance of the money at Cedar Court, on Basingstoke Road, was revealed in an audit report at the Audit and Governance committee last night (Thursday, September 19).

The council did not find evidence of misappropriation but cannot account for the missing funds.

All petty cash expenditure and use of the guest rooms and amenity shop has been stopped following the review.

Councillor David Stevens, chair of the committee, said: “This is extraordinary that in 2019 we are still seeing something like this with cash flying around.

“I am slightly surprised we haven’t got people here explaining to us tonight how this was doable.

“We would expect any other organisation to get their act together.

“This is a reputational risk to the council. People will be saying ‘what the hell is going on?"

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The 40-room home for people who require nursing or personal care has 27 one-bed flats and 13 two-bed flats, all for social rent.

A visit was made to Cedar Court to carry out an audit of the booking and payment controls for the guest room and amenity shop facilities due to concerns over the lack of accounting records.

RBC found there were no financial records with all payments and receipts “done through petty cash”.

There were no controls in place to ensure guest room stays were paid for and VAT was found not to have been treated correctly.

Chief auditor Paul Harrington said: “It was unauditable.”

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Jackie Yates, director of resources, said the assistant director of housing and communities will come to the next meeting to explain the situation.

Councillor Deborah Edwards said: “To close down the guest rooms and amenities affects these residents. What has been done to replace this?

“When will the guest rooms and amenities be available?

“The only people being punished are the residents and I think that is grossly unfair.”

Mr Harrington said he did not know but the lead member would be made aware once the facilities are reinstated.

Councillor Emma Warman asked what assurance there is that other sites are not acting in the same way.

Mr Harrington said “auditors cannot be everywhere” and Cedar Court is “low” in his risk assessment so he would not have visited it regularly.

Ms Yates said the petty cash was operated by the home independently, but the council could check there are no issues in the management of formal petty cash operations at other council-run sites.

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A Care Quality Commission inspection in January found the care home ‘requires improvement’ in all areas.