Auditors report ‘significant improvements’ at Sandwell Council

Sandwell Council’s external auditors have determined the council has made ‘significant improvements’ during the first six months of government intervention.

Grant Thornton visited the council during September and October with the results presented at a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday (21 December).

The auditors noted in their report that:

"The Council’s Improvement Plan has been key for creating and maintaining a focus on the required improvements, and the Council has made significant progress on many of the recommendations made in our previous report.

"The Council has put in place the foundations to deliver the sustainable improvements that are needed, and significant improvements are already being made."

The report also recognises 'The Council must also use the improvement building blocks now in place to bring a greater focus on service user responsiveness and outcomes.'

This review of an audit first carried by Grant Thornton out in December 2021 reports Sandwell Council has resolved many of the key concerns raised within the first six months of commissioners being appointed by the Secretary of State.

Further progress has been made since the auditors visited Sandwell, with the Cabinet approving a medium-term financial strategy and asset management strategy in November. The Council also approved constitutional changes in November and ratified the appointment of a permanent chief executive, Shokat Lal.

The Leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Kerrie Carmichael will now write to the Secretary of State to report on the progress made through the council’s single improvement plan. She said:

“We recognise that there is still work to do in putting the customer front and centre of our business, living our desired organisational culture, embedding our changes so they achieve the desired impact in a sustained way, and building continuous improvement into our normal business. This will be the focus in the next stage of our journey.

“Importantly, the Council has the drive and determination to see through and embed the required improvements and has proven that collectively we have the capability and capacity to make effective change at pace.

“We are immensely proud of the progress made in this short space of time and there continues to be a clear focus and determination to deliver what needs to improve.

“It is very heartening to see that positive change is happening – however we will not take any of this for granted. We have strong systems in place to make sure that we spot any issues as they come up and we will be clear where there are areas that we need to put more work into.”

Separately, the Commissioners will be providing their six-monthly update to the government by Thursday 22 December following their recently published monitoring report from June.

You can view the report in full here.


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