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News and Comment June 2020

Index: 2020

19 June - Bexley’s deep financial hole is getting worse

While I’ve been memorising the location of every pothole between DA17 and E6 some people have been finding all the holes in Bexley Council’s draft 2019/20 accounts.

Contents
The Pension Fund accounts are missing from the Table of Contents. I thought pension contributions were one of the largest drains on the Council’s budget but there is a complete absence of information.

Page 9
Bexley Council overspent by more than £3 million on infrastructure, more than half of it on buying up houses. There is no information on whether or not it is occupied.

Page 49
Note 8 is a funny one. Income and expenditure are wildly different between 2018/19 and 2019/20. Getting on for 50% different. How did service income manage to rise by £17 million? It can’t all be increased parking charges and yellow box junctions can it? Government grants supposedly went up by £108 million (£247m to £355m) but the ‘Surplus or Deficit on the Provision of Service’ increased from £27 million to £109m. Is it a deficit or is it a surplus? It looks like a deficit to me. There is no good news is there?

Page 52
The reserves excluding the Covid grant are £31 million. That’s £12 million less than last year and half what they were the year before. For a year when the Council was supposed to more or less break even that’s one hell of a big loss.

Pages 53/54
Bexley’s Finance Director failed to notice money disappearing in Barnet and more ‘disappears’ from this year’s ‘Financing and Investment Income and Expenditure’. A column that is totalled to £16·9 million should only add up to £5·6 million. That’s eleven million missing straight away.

Pages 79/80
Senior officer’s pay remains just as generous as ever with 90 Council staff on more than £50,000 a year, some on much more. The total is up by nearly 30% over the previous year. (£436k.) Paul Moore the retiring Deputy Director received a remarkably small pay off by Council standards. Less than £50k.

Page 88
The value of the three Leisure Centres is said to have increased from £51million to over £72 million. I suppose it looks good and helps balance out the bad news but can it really be true? Doesn’t look very likely. Did they ask a proper valuer?

Page 99
The year saw a massive increase in borrowing, Up to £237 million from £205m.

 

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