Cambridgeshire

Cambridge council financial planning blamed for £2.3m error

Weaknesses in financial planning at Cambridge City Council led to an error that left a £2.3m discrepancy in budget records, a report claims.

Auditors discovered the miscalculation when checking two linked ledgers.

Council spending is cross referenced to a forward planning ledger for the following year's budget and the mistake was made there, the council said.

The council was planning cuts at the time and the Labour opposition leader said he was shocked by the error.

Director of resources David Horspool said that no actual money was lost but the discrepancy did have an impact on some priority spending which had to be reduced by about £200,000.

He could not say where this money would have been spent.

The council is now taking steps to strengthen its financial planning with the help of the reports authors, Ernst and Young.

Cuts increased

Council cuts are continuing and a new five-year plan had been formulated, which includes budget reductions totalling £6m.

"In the current financial climate we can see that local authority finance will continue to be challenging," Mr Horspool said.

Lewis Herbert, leader of the Labour Group on Cambridge City Council, said he was shocked.

"This will have a huge impact on services and the city's hard-pressed residents," he said.

"As recently as October the LibDems (the ruling party) were planning cuts of £4.7m over the next four years and now they will have to increase that by 50% to £6m.

"What makes it so much worse is that the LibDems have already stripped the council cupboard bare by cutting city reserves by £4.5m in their existing plans to 2014."

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