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Letter: We Should Be Asking Why Accounting Error Occurred, Not Who Made It

Published on: 22 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 22 Jul, 2023

From: Tom Bradbury

In response to: Guildford’s £10m Accounting Error Discovered in March

You get what you pay for.

With respect to the finance staff at GBC, and any other local authority, wages are poor by comparison to the private sector so you get finance and accountancy staff who don’t have the knowledge, skills or competence to understand transactions that have to be treated in specific ways in accordance with recognised accounting standards. Then, when it goes wrong, it’s picked up by big accountancy firms where there is a whole resource of qualified staff.

I am sure most of the time, the finance and accounting staff at GBC do a fantastic job but when unusual transactions are presented it is not always clear how they should be treated and that’s how errors occur. They are only made worse because accounts are not audited in a timely manner to identify errors or omissions.

I have no doubt the person who made the error feels awful about it. However, they should not be criticised because it is what it is, an error and anyone is capable of that.

Perhaps somebody should be asking why the error occurred rather than picking on a team of relatively low-paid individuals who just made an accounting error.

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Responses to Letter: We Should Be Asking Why Accounting Error Occurred, Not Who Made It

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 22, 2023 at 8:24 pm

    Tom Bradbury is quite correct. Modern management is not about a blame and finger-pointing culture.

    It should be investigating whether any of GBC’s systems and protocols are unfit for purpose. They are more likely to be modelled on civil service methods, rather than modern management.

    Judging by the performance of other departments, such as Planning, I think we already know the answer.

    Anybody who has worked in a business knows how important financial control is, even at the operational level. That is why budgets are continuously monitored. An audit should be a routine confirmation that monitoring has been competent.

    If nobody could tell from monthly reconciliation that serious errors were occurring, then at both the administrative and council levels of GBC there is seriously deficient monitoring, at the very least.

  2. Jeremy Holt Reply

    July 23, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    The answer to the question posed by the letter writer is because the s151 officer did not perform his statutory duty.

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