MILLIONS of pounds were missing in the accounts of West Berkshire Council due to “technical errors”, auditors have said.

This means there is an extra £65 million on the council’s balance sheet than was thought previously. 

That’s because of a mistake made in estimating the value of the land and buildings which are owned by the council, according to auditor Grant Thornton.

READ MORE: Plans to build Passivhaus in garden next to 18th century terrace thrown out

The draft audit said the value of a “number of assets had been erroneously included”, either through including the same thing twice or including properties that had been sold off. 

The auditors said: “Our review of the council’s processes for estimating the value of land and buildings in the statement has identified a number of material misstatements. It is the auditor’s opinion that the council’s estimation processes underpinning the statement of accounts are not adequate.”

The issue was labelled as red in the draft audit, meaning highest priority, having a “significant effect … and requires urgent attention”. 

READ MORE: Taxi fare hike in Reading gets green light

David Johnson, who works for Grant Thornton, explained to councillors  on the governance and ethics committee on February 10 about the mistake.

He said: “We feel that the process prior to this year had been flawed, in terms of those figures in the accounts. But the accounts themselves will be correct, and I anticipate that will change next year.”

Councillor James Cole (Con, Hungerford & Kintbury) said: “You’ve picked up something that technically was wrong, because we were in the wrong boxes. You’ve put it right, and all is now hunky dory — is that a fair statement?”

Mr Johnson said: “I’m certainly much more comfortable with those figures that are now in the balance sheet, because the finance team has done a lot of work on this. I’m confident that the issues that have identified this year, will not be repeated next year.”

Despite the mistake, the taxpayer has not been left out of pocket, according to Joseph Holmes, the council’s executive director of resources. 

Cllr Cole said: “Technical errors were made, and they go back some years, but actually the taxpayer wasn’t harmed?”

Mr Holmes replied: “No, the taxpayer now will see £65 million more on our balance sheet.”