Improvements noted following external audit

A FIRM of external auditors have acknowledged improvements made to the way Barrow Borough Council deals with procurement.

All local authorities are inspected regularly as part of a statutory external auditing process.

Barrow Borough Council has received three statutory recommendations from the firm Grant Thornton under Section 24 of the Audit and Accountability Act 2014 following its most recent inspection for the year ending March 31, 2021.

The recommendations are:

  • To embed and enforce the council’s updated contract standing orders and procurement rules.

  • To ensure members and officers have robust assurance and reporting arrangements in place for managing all ongoing contracts to enable appropriate and timely action to remediate any non-compliance or wider deficiencies.

  • Review the council’s escalation arrangements up to Full Council and Overview and Scrutiny Committee to ensure an adequate and timely response to address significant contract environment weaknesses.

The council has an improvement plan to address the recommendations and to ensure progress against each one continues to be managed effectively.

The report from Grant Thornton was received by the council on October 6 and the council has a legal duty to consider the report within one month.

The document recognised that the council has and continues to put in place arrangements to address weaknesses in the area of contracts and procurement and that a number of actions identified within the improvement plan are underway or completed. 

A report to Barrow Borough Council’s Full Council recommends members accept the audit report and approve the improvement plan. 

Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “The auditors concluded that the council needed to strengthen its processes in a number of areas relating to procurement. 

“This is historic as it relates to the year leading to March 2021.

“We fully accept the findings and the improvement plan sets out how the council has and continues to address the recommendations with a number completed and others well underway.

“We thank Grant Thornton for their input and expertise in this matter.”