Auditors want to see benefits from Falkirk Council’s improvement projects

Falkirk Council's auditors want to see a better record of how projects that change the way council services are delivered have saved money.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 26th February 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 3:25 pm

Under the banner 'Council of the Future', Falkirk Council invests money every year in projects that it hopes will lead to improvements in council services and reductions in costs.

Among the 23 current projects are making the MECS telecare system digital and using technology to make reporting and repairing potholes quicker and easier.

External auditors, Ernst and Young, say these projects are vital to create long-term financial stability but they want the council to be clearer about the financial benefits such changes bring.

Sign up to our daily The Falkirk Herald Today newsletter

Falkirk Council Municipal Buildings

In a report presented to Falkirk Council this week, the auditor notes that the council "continues to demonstrate good financial control and that financial reporting was clear and consistent throughout the financial year".

However, they also noted that it was not possible to verify the savings that have been delivered through the Council of the Future programme.

The report said it was important to make a distinction between transformational savings and what it calls "business as usual" savings.

The chief executive of Falkirk Council, Kenneth Lawrie, agreed that the transformational work was vital.

He said: “The Council of the Future strategy is of fundamental importance.

"We need to transform and improve services to meet the needs of our communities, particularly in the light of the impact of Covid-19 on poverty and well-being and the economy.”

Mr Lawrie continued: "The other aspect is we know that the council very significant financial challenges in future years.

"As a council we have a stark choice. We can either transform the business and take innovative approaches to allow us to preserve and enhance services while making savings.

"We know that is do-able and has been done elsewhere.

"The alternative is simply to make service cuts to bridge the budget gap and I don't think anyone in this chamber would want to do that."

The report also noted a need to improve the management and monitoring of the capital programme and new reporting arrangements have been put in place.

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.