Lambeth council has said there is “no basis” for accusations that it is guilty of “extensive financial mismanagement”.
It said that many of the accusations levelled by a local “People’s Audit” had been addressed by council officers and its independent auditors “several months ago”.
The People’s Audit said the council statement was “more spin and untruths”.
Lambeth council also accused the People’s Audit of failing to respond to letters from its own auditors, KPMG, asking for evidence to back up some of its accusations.
Cllr Imogen Walker, deputy leader of the council (finance and resources), said: “We know that the content of the report has caused concern, and so it must be looked at carefully, regardless of the questions that have been raised about the motivation behind its publication”.
The council said it was untrue that Lambeth officers had been obstructive.
“The ‘People’s Audit’ exercised their right to inspect the accounts in person,” it said. “Over 230 hours of officer time was spent supporting queries and a senior finance officer met members of the group last August.
“Some of them then exercised their right to object by contacting Lambeth’s external and independent auditor KPMG, who went through the complaints in detail.
“Letters were sent to this group from Lambeth’s independent auditors, rejecting some claims and asking for evidence for others. No such evidence was provided.
“That correspondence is between the auditor and the ‘People’s Audit’ so Lambeth is not able to release them into the public domain. The ‘People’s Audit’ has chosen not to publish them.”
In one of nine responses to detailed accusations, the council said that the People’s Audit had been asked for evidence for its claims that contractors at the Cressingham Gardens estate had charged for work that had not been carried out; repeated instances of the same repair; and over-charged.
The council said: “The People’s Audit has been asked for evidence to support this, but none has been forthcoming.
“Any evidence would of course be taken extremely seriously and acted on immediately, but this remains an unsubstantiated allegation.”
Full council response [PDF download]
Original 12,500-word report [PDF download]
I’m personally aware of instances of tenants or leaseholders being charged for work that wasn’t done. I put it down to simply not paying anyone to check it properly, so contractors feel free to leave some stuff unfinished.
People’s Audit says you didn’t give them a chance to respond. This would hardly be surprising as the blog seems all to happy to flag wave for the council and Lambeth Labour.
I read the audit and the response. The audit resonated with my own experience of Lambeth as council tenant. I was horrified to learn how much money has been wasted in compensation payouts for housing disrepair. Although I shouldn’t be after a 13 year battle with Housing in all its manifestations has resulted in me taking legal action against Lambeth and receiving a considerable sum in compensation.
No one rushes to legal action its a last resort option so for over £10 million to be spent in just the last five years shows anyone who wants to look that all is not well with housing services.
As for the council’s response we’ll really it’s nothing more than a list of assertions backed up with no evidence. It’s just the usual spin how on the one hand can there be an improved repair service and yet this level of compensation for disrepair it just doesn’t ring true.
Much like this fawning blog.
Any attempt from Brixton Blog to get a response from the Peoples’ Audit?
See third para
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