Why did 2 missing words from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 2014/15 accounts end up costing YOU £4,755?

Why did 2 missing words from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 2014/15 accounts end up costing YOU £4,755?

Why did 2 missing words from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 2014/15 accounts end up costing YOU £4,755?


Councillor Phil Davies (Chair) at a meeting earlier this year of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

In the interests of openness and transparency here is an email I’ve just written. We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning. You can read the objection that led to the KPMG (the external auditors for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) increasing their bill by £4,755 here.

Councillor Anthony Carr (Chair) anthony.carr@councillors.sefton.gov.uk
Councillor Nina Killen (Deputy Chair) nina.killen@councillors.sefton.gov.uk
Councillor Andy Moorhead andy.moorhead@knowsley.gov.uk
Councillor Rob Polhill rob.polhill@halton.gov.uk
Councillor Mike Sullivan mikesullivan@wirral.gov.uk
Councillor Pam Thomas pamela.thomas@liverpool.gov.uk

Subject: Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Audit Committee meeting (3rd November 2015) item 6 LCRCA Final Accounts 2014/15

Dear all,

I have read the reports for tomorrow’s meeting and as you are the people on the Audit Committee there to represent the people of Merseyside I wish to make the following points to you.

If you wish me to explain at the public meeting itself why I made the objection I am happy to do so, but as you will understand in this email what I stated in the objection is the tip of a larger iceberg.

Firstly, the same error was also made in the Merseytravel accounts (I think since Merseytravel’s Audit and Governance Sub-Committee was disbanded you are also responsible for Merseytravel’s accounts too). I know someone else made an objection to the Merseytravel accounts (I didn’t), but had I made the same objection to the Merseytravel accounts too as this would’ve added an extra ~£5k to your audit costs.

As it’s never been made clear to me if the same error in Merseytravel’s accounts was also corrected, I would appreciate an answer to that point.

There are other points about the accounts that I did not raise in my objection, that you as the Audit Committee should be made aware of.

The accounts for 2014/15 and accompanying reports refer to the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015. However the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 only apply to financial years from 2015/16 onwards, therefore this is another error.

Finally, I am concerned that the system of internal controls at the LCRCA, the external auditor or the councillors approving the accounts did not spot this or the matters relating to my objection.

I hope at the meeting tomorrow you will exercise some scrutiny as to what happened and why and put into place controls to prevent it happening in the future.

Yours sincerely,

John Brace

P.S. I will clarify what it stated on page 11 of the auditor’s report.

The accounts in their original form didn’t comply with legal requirements. It’s been acknowledged by the auditors and officers they were wrong. The point about the external auditors applying to the court for a declaration that the accounts are unlawful is therefore moot as they’ve been changed.

However it is important that councillors consider the reasons behind the objection in a public interest report, otherwise the people tasked with corporate governance will be in the dark as to what was wrong, why it had to be changed and be aware to check for this next year. I hope I have made this clear.

P.P.S On another audit related note, as the LCRCA now has a website, the Local Government (Transparency Requirements) (England) Regulations 2015 make it a legal requirement that certain information is published on its website (such as payments over £500 for example the payment to the auditors).

Currently this is being done on Merseytravel’s website, which makes it very hard to find the LCRCA payments amongst the Merseytravel ones. I would like the Audit Committee to please find out why this information isn’t published on the LCRCA website as it would aid with better openness and transparency about what the LCRCA is doing.

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

10 thoughts on “Why did 2 missing words from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority 2014/15 accounts end up costing YOU £4,755?”

    1. Hopefully you’ll see from writing stuff like the above, that there is someone out there that cares whether accounting is done properly!

      However I’m not an accountant, just a journalist.

      If the mistake in the accounts was obscure or technical I wouldn’t be able to spot it.

  1. G’day John

    As I see it no one wants or cares about being accountable.

    Accountants just get in the way.

    I worked at the Audit Commission.

    All they want to do is be big spenders and that is why all the old blokes at the pool of a morning are onto the next tranche of cash to be wasted by the council.

    They just want to be big NOBS with dosh to buy golf courses and pie in the sky nonsense for Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters.

    Buy five “Chamber Potty’s” to be run by Britain’s most credulous man’s YES woman and for them to use as travel agencies for the “Dill” and his clowns to go to Reno and Shanghai.



    1. Pickles scrapped the Audit Commission.

      Now the private sector makes money out of public sector audit.

      In fact we’re heading towards councils choosing their own auditors in the future.

      It’s the same people that used to work for the Audit Commission who work for Grant Thornton though so what’s really changed other than a name?

      I’m not elected, I’m strictly speaking not accountable to you or the public.

      If I was working for a company I’d be accountable to the shareholders.

      Yet the politicians and local government employees and others paid out of the public purse are accountable (at least in theory) to me.

      If they (politicians, officers etc) start forgetting that they’re there to serve the public then we’re all in trouble aren’t we?

  2. You don’t have to watch BBC news with reports of corruption in third world countries, you only have to tune into John’s blog and see it everyday at Wirral.

  3. G’day John

    I lived in Papua New Guinea and played football in the national championships in a shirt that didn’t have a name on the back.

    I’d rather live there in the third world than Wirral.



    Much more open honest and transparent in my experience.

  4. John you are right to be concerned that neither councillors nor auditors spotted the mistakes whereas you did.
    It is hard not to believe that all that happens is rubber-stamping by committees who are keener to fill in attendance costs than to do the job they are paid to do.
    Clearly there is an absolute necessity for someone like yourself to point out to councillors their lacunae of ignorance for however dull accountancy may be, it is just that-accountability, whether expressed in numbers or in words.

    Thanks for keeping an eye on matters ad should the public not bill the £47oo extra costs to the committee members, which would sharpen their wits.Heaven forfend they might even read the accounts.

    1. I am little uncertain now as to whether the £4,755 relates solely to dealing with my objection.

      Although mine was the sole objection to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority accounts an unknown third party made an objection to the Merseytravel accounts.

      KPMG audit both (in fact in order to reduce duplication there is one Audit Committee for both).

      Therefore whereas the report suggests the £4,755 is in relation to the sole objection to the LCRCA accounts, it could be in error and relate to the objection to the Merseytravel accounts.

      I’ve had a response to my email from the Chair of the Audit Committee yesterday. On behalf of the Audit Committee my concerns have been passed to the Head of Internal Audit to investigate.

      She’s the one who at a public meeting referred to some whistleblowing as "Mickey Mouse" and "complete nonsense" so I presume I will have to pass the Merseytravel "Mickey Mouse" test before it is investigated…

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