Enfield’s Conservative group has accused the council of incompetence after delays to submitting its annual accounts led to extra costs of more than £35,000.

Tory leader Cllr Joanne Laban said the money spent on additional audit fees could have been used to fund services such as waste collection, street cleansing and social care.

It was revealed at a general purposes committee meeting on January 14 that failing to submit the accounts by the November deadline had meant extra resources being put in by the external auditor.

The costs will continue to rise until the audit has been completed and set of finished accounts are published, the Tories warned.

Cllr Laban (Highlands) said: “The failure of Enfield’s Labour administration to complete the accounts on time has consequences. The extra resource required to produce a final set of audited accounts has already cost in excess of £35,000.

“The money spent on additional auditors’ fees could have been spent on the services residents rely on such as waste collection, street cleansing and social care if the administration had done its job properly.”

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But a council spokesperson said the additional audit work was not deemed an “unnecessary expense”, adding that fewer than half of local authorities had finalised their accounts by the November deadline.

The spokesperson said: “Enfield Council completed the draft statement of accounts and published it on the council website in July 2020 in accordance with the deadline. We expect the final accounts to be signed off and for these to be unqualified.

“At Enfield Council, significant improvements have been undertaken in the 2019-20 accounts which has generated additional audit work. The work is completed in line with the law and is not deemed an unnecessary expense.

“Please be aware that the audit fees are a nationally-agreed fixed fee.

“Those with a limited understanding of the industry may not know the challenges and pressures surrounding the auditing of public sector accounts. Only 44 per cent of councils finalised their accounts by the November 2020 deadline.

“A national, independent review of the national public sector audit framework has recently been completed and has identified these challenges, acknowledging the need for a review of the overall system for public body accounting audit, the timetable and level of fees. We welcome these findings.”