Somerset

Taunton Deane council defends Southwest One over charge

A Somerset council has defended the firm that compiles its accounts after it was charged an extra £15,000 by the Audit Commission.

The commission said the charge was because a "failure" in the accounting system meant it took longer than it should have done to inspect.

Taunton Deane Borough Council said taxpayers would foot the bill rather than the accounting firm Southwest One.

Southwest One said it was a matter for the Conservative-run council.

'Earthquake proportions'

The problem has been blamed on a new accounting system being used by the company.

Council leader John Williams said it was not paying for the firm's mistakes as the contract actually saved the council money.

He said: "Southwest One is delivering huge savings, we get money back from this contract every year.

"I'm confident that it is now settling in.

"We are going through a change of earthquake proportions - all the staff have to use different systems - but the bottom line is I don't think it's a question of the outsourcing company leaving us with a bill."

'Won't cost residents'

The company - which is 75% owned by IBM - runs the council's IT and benefit systems.

It also runs Avon and Somerset Police and Somerset County Council's IT systems.

The commission has also charged Somerset County Council extra after going through its accounts.

A county council spokesperson said: "We have not received the bill yet but when we do, we will charge it to Southwest One so it won't cost Somerset residents anything."

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