Council Audit department to be outsourced after repairs crisis

City chiefs said tender documents would be issued in the next few weeks

City chiefs said tender documents would be issued in the next few weeks

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THE internal audit department of the city council is set to be outsourced in the wake of the statutory repairs scandal.

City chiefs said tender documents would be issued in the next few weeks to test the market, with a report expected to be considered by the council’s finance and resources committee at the end of September. While it is understood the move was prompted by the scandal over statutory repairs which has beset the council, there is no suggestion anyone in the internal audit service was involved in any wrongdoing.

Around 20 staff currently work on internal audit and risk management based within the council’s corporate governance directorate and face possible redployement or voluntary redundancy. The service carries out reviews of council processes, investigates any areas of concern and works with external auditors such as Audit Scotland. Fourteen council staff have been suspended over the statutory repair notices scandal, sparked by claims of homeowners facing hugely inflated bills for unnecessary or substandard work.

Consultant Deloitte, called in by the council to investigate, is believed to have found people were regularly overcharged, substandard materials were used, contractors were given jobs despite not being on an approved list of firms, confidential information was disclosed to certain firms, and council staff received unofficial payments and undisclosed hospitality.

Dave Anderson, director of the city development department, was sent home three weeks ago over allegations that the initial internal probe into malpractice launched two years ago was not properly pursued.

In a separate investigation, four former council employees from the city’s property care department were charged last month with alleged corruption and fraud in connection with repairs carried out to local authority buildings.

A report by Audit Scotland earlier this year highlighted the bleak financial situation facing the council, listing the statutory repairs scandal and the trams project among key areas of risk and warning of the possibility the council’s borrowing was not “affordable and sustainable”.

Announcing the outsourcing move, council leader Andrew Burns said: “The Capital coalition has openly recognised that we need to provide the public with greater confidence and trust in the council.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com