PROPER arrangements are in place to manage money at a North-East local authority, despite uncertainty over future government funding, external auditors have found. 

Mazars assessed how risks are being managed at Stockton Council and whether its accounts are up to scratch. 

Council leaders cast their eye over the firm’s judgement at the latest cabinet meeting and were pleased with the findings. 

Cllr Steve Nelson, cabinet member for community safety, said some neighbouring authorities “would give their right arm” for such an audit.

The main aim of the external auditor is to “audit” financial statements and issue a “value for money” conclusion.

However, this is not a view on whether the council offers “value for money” – rather, it’s a judgement that proper arrangements are in place to ensure money being spent efficiently and effectively. 

Gavin Barker, from Mazars, told cabinet members the accounts checked over the summer offered a “true and fair view” of the council’s position. 

He said: “The council has made proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.”

Cabinet members heard the auditors did flag up one area of risk – something it shared with councils across the land.  

Mr Barker said: “Unsurprisingly, it’s around sustainable resources given the long period of austerity the council has faced with other public sector bodies. It’s very difficult to take a medium term view in terms of the finances because of the uncertainties around Brexit and things like the comprehensive spending review and the fair funding review which have been delayed.”

The delayed comprehensive spending review was unveiled by the government last month with the promise of an extra £1.5bn for social care.

However, £500m of that would rest on whether councils want to put an extra two per cent charge on council tax – something which has happened for the past few years, and has dismayed some councils.