The council’s accounts for the last two years have been delayed once again, continuing a saga that begun with error-strewn accounts for 2016/17.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) 2016/17 accounts were finally audited and published in July 2019 after a two-year delay due to historic failures by the council to meet good accounting standards.

Deadlines for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 statements have also been missed as a result, with the multitude of delays costing the council more than £300,000 on top of expected fees.

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A report ahead of a RBC Audit & Governance committee meeting on Thursday (January 30) has revealed a new double-delay as well as a potential third missed deadline to come.

Here is a breakdown of the current state of the council's accounts.

Delay one

Accounts: 2017/18

Due: Summer 2018

Delay: 18 months and counting

What is the latest?

External auditors EY are currently auditing the 2017/18 accounts and have raised 1,638 queries; the council has answered 1,304 of these so far.

EY have, however, paused work due to the need to respond to priorities elsewhere and will re-commence the audit on February 17.

The 2017/18 accounts may now not be signed off before the end of the financial year (end of March 2020), according to the audit report.

The statutory 30-day public inspection period for the accounts concluded with no objections sent to the council.

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Delay two

Accounts: 2018/19

Due: Summer 2019

Delay: Six months and counting

What is the latest?

Council officers said at a meeting in September 2019 said the 2018/19 accounts would be sent to auditors by the end of that month, but they have since been delayed due to “capacity issues”.

The latest report, ahead of Thursday’s meeting, states staff have been managing competing pressures and therefore unable to work on the 2018/19 accounts.

However, the report adds the 2018/19 are now almost complete.

The 30-day public inspection period for the 2018/19 accounts is now expected to begin before the end of the financial year (end of March 2020).

The auditing of the 2018/19 accounts will begin once EY have finished with the 2017/18 accounts.

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Delay three?

Accounts: 2019/20

Due: Summer 2020

Delay: Unconfirmed

What is the latest?

The delays from previous years are likely to impact on this year’s accounts.

The 2019/20 draft accounts are required to be published for public inspection in June this year, with the council failing to meet this requirement for the last two years.

The report states: “A closing plan for 2019/20 will be drafted and circulated prior to the end of the 2019/20 Financial Year.”