On Thursday 25 May 2023, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published the outcome of its non-statutory external assurance review into Woking Borough Council’s finances, investments and related governance.
The report highlighted that the council does not have the capacity or capability to manage the severe financial challenges faced by the authority, and it must increase the pace at which the recovery must happen.
The Secretary of State considers the council is failing in complying with its best value duty under the Local Government Act 1999. In particular, because of the scale of financial and commercial risk due to the council’s legacy of extraordinarily high and disproportionate levels of debt.
Following publication, the government announced a series of measures that outline the next steps. These included the Secretary of State making directions which set out actions the council must take and the appointment by The Secretary of State of Commissioners, who have powers over a range of council functions, to work with the Corporate Leadership Team to address the authority’s ongoing financial challenges. The Secretary of State envisages that most decision will be carried out by the council, but with the oversight of the commissioners.
The aim of the intervention is to secure the best possible outcome for Woking residents, taxpayers and the public purse. It also ensures the council makes sufficient improvement to be able to comply with its best value duty on a sustainable basis.
The government’s intervention will be in place for five years.
The commissioners are accountable to the Secretary of State and will report regularly on the council’s progress towards recovery.
During this time, commissioners will work with senior council officers to deliver an agreed recovery and action plan at pace.
The commissioners appointed by the Secretary of State are:
- Sir Tony Redmond, Lead Commissioner
- Richard Carr, Managing Director Commissioner
- Carol Culley OBE, Commissioner
- Mervyn Greer, Commissioner.
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Further information will be published on this website as and when it is available.