Merton’s external auditors, the District Audit Service has just published its Management Letter, which highlights some of the important findings arising from its yearly audit.

Merton Council, like all other Local Authorities, is independently audited each year.

With regards to its general financial standing, nearly two-thirds of Merton’s net expenditure is funded by council tax and non-domestic rates. Merton’s collection rates for local taxes are better than the average of outer London Boroughs and Council Tax collection rates have steadily risen year by year.

At 31 March 2000 rent arrears were at £1 million. This is a 9.3 per cent reduction compared with the previous year and this level is below the average of other outer London Boroughs.

Merton generally has suitable arrangements in place to secure value for money in the use of its resources. It has also made good progress in introducing best value with a Best Value Performance Plan being available from 31 March 2000.

The District Auditor, who is independent of the Council, gave a clean bill of health to the Council’s accounts for the year ending March 31 2000.

The District Auditor also reported that the Council has good financial systems, it has no significant weaknesses in its procedures for detecting and preventing fraud and corruption and that it has appropriate procedures to ensure that whenever it spends money, that this expenditure is within the legal powers available to it.

Councillor Geraldine Stanford, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Support, said: ‘The key figures highlighted by the audit are extremely encouraging.
‘The Council will be taking the audit extremely seriously and will be working closely with audit officers in order to continue with providing a best value and continuous service improvement.’