Published 22 December 2023

Auditors have praised West Dunbartonshire Council for its work to support residents affected by the cost-of-living crisis, reduce inequalities and combat climate change.

In the Best Value Thematic Report external auditors Mazars highlighted the Council’s key strengths, which included awareness of the benefit of working closely with communities and the strong relationships between elected members and council officers in delivering on its strategic aims.

The External Auditor’s Best Value Thematic Review report was presented at a Council meeting on Wednesday.

The report also highlighted the Council’s clear vision and strategic plan which sets out objectives, measures of success and key commitments; its awareness of a need to work effectively with citizens and communities to achieve its strategic objectives; and actions it is taking to reduce inequalities and combat climate change which underpin its priorities and objectives.

It also noted that budget decisions for 2023/24 reflected strategic priorities, and despite a challenging financial outlook, the Council continues to focus on providing support to communities affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

Councillor Daniel Lennie, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “I look forward to continuing to progress this work and making sure we are supporting our citizens at what is a difficult time for Councils and for communities. This positive report is testament to the hard work of our staff at every level and within each and every service the Council provides.”

Councillor Michelle McGinty, Vice Convener of Corporate Services, added: “I am delighted that the auditors have highlighted the Council’s key strengths and priorities of tackling inequality and concentrating on environmental aims.

“It is also great to hear that the focus we have put on supporting our residents through the cost-of-living crisis has been recognised. We have invested £5million in a cost-of-living fund and this continues to provide for people who need it most through the likes of the school meal hardship fund, additional money for the area’s foodbanks and free summer activities for people in our communities.

“Despite the financial challenges which we are facing, we are determined to deliver for our residents and we recognise the need to continue to engage with our communities so we can ensure we are meeting their needs.”

The audit of Best Value in councils is fully integrated within the annual audit work performed by appointed auditors and their teams. Auditors are required to evaluate and report on the performance of councils in meeting their Best Value duties.

External Audit also conduct thematic reviews as directed by the Accounts Commission. In 2022/23 this direction focused on the effectiveness of Council leadership in developing new strategic priorities following the elections in May 2022.

This report presents the external auditor’s conclusions on this work and will be considered by the Accounts Commission at a meeting in April 2024.