National legislation - the Local Audit and Accountability Act (2014) and the Accounts and Audit Regulations (2015) - gives registered voters the right to inspect their local authority’s accounts, ask questions about them and object to them, during a period of 30 working days every year.

A number of Lambeth residents have exercised this right last year

During the 2018/19 Inspection of Accounts the council handled 15 requests for information and provided large volumes of data to requestors. Council officers spent 104 hours responding to requests, collating data and providing information. A report on the public Inspection was presented to Corporate Committee on 25 July 2019 and can be found by visiting the agenda draft and minutes

As in previous years, there has been ongoing correspondence between residents who requested information under the Inspection of Accounts regulations, and the council’s external auditors. The council cannot publish this information; as we are not the owners of the data, this would be in breach of the Data Protection Act. However an outline of correspondence is available.

Residents raised a total of 4 objections to the accounts with the External Auditors, Mazars. In addition to the inquiries relating to the public Inspection of Accounts, the council has also responded to a number of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests relating to the annual accounts, audits and other key projects.

The council’s Freedom of Information requests can be viewed online. This “disclosure log” is a database of all our responses to previous FOI requests, including several that have been the subject of public debate.

The requests for information under the public inspection period this year is summarised in the attached document.

The majority of the requests received during the inspection of accounts period broadly covered the following areas:

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Your New Town Hall key facts

Your New Town Hall (YNTH) is a wide-ranging project to eventually reduce Lambeth Council’s core office buildings from 14 to two – including the refurbished Town Hall and the new Civic Centre - saving at least £4.5m a year. The programme also includes 219 new homes for rent and sale - of which 47 per cent will be affordable – and will open up the Town Hall for community and business use.

The total construction cost for the Town Hall/Civic Centre work is currently forecast at £68m, while the total development cost - including a number of other costs relating to site purchases, offices and housing – is £104m

You can find an outline of the full costs of the Town Hall project, including the new homes being built as part of the project in the document below.

Full costs of the Your New Town Hall Project. Including the Refurbishment of the Town Hall, the new Civic Centre and 219 new homes
Please note that this only includes spending associated with the Town Hall Project. Suppliers to the development may work on other council projects.

Council officials provided 41 documents relating to the YNTH scheme during the Inspection of Accounts process in 2017.

2. Myatt’s Field North estate regeneration, Private Finance Initiative

The redevelopment of the Myatts Field North (MFN) estate was an award-winning £150 million investment project. The scheme, a partnership between Lambeth Council and the Regenter Consortium, delivered 808 new homes, 172 refurbished homes, a combined heat and power plant and a new community centre.

Council officials dealt with 10 requests for details relating to the MFN scheme during the Inspection of Accounts process. A selection of these can be accessed from the links below:

3. Other PFI projects

Council officials dealt with 16 requests for details relating to other PFI projects during the Inspection of Accounts process. A selection of these can be accessed from the link below.

4. Budgets, and Health & Safety reports, for each Lambeth adventure playground

Lambeth’s leisure facilities include 14 Green Flag Award-winning parks and a number of playgrounds.

During the Inspection of Accounts process, residents made a total of 5 requests for details – including budgets, and Health & Safety reports - relating to the borough’s adventure playgrounds. These can be accessed from the links below:

5. Ongoing costs associated with libraries e.g. Carnegie and Herne Hill, Upper Norwood, Waterloo

Despite cuts in funding from central government over a number of years, Lambeth has committed to delivering 10 libraries in the borough. After consultation with residents, some changes to Lambeth’s libraries are being made, but a library service is planned for all ten locations.

Council officials dealt with 50 requests for details relating to Lambeth libraries, during the Inspection of Accounts process. A selection of these can be accessed from the link below.

6. Amounts spent on buy backs and demolitions on different regeneration sites

Lambeth is redeveloping six estates as part of its estate regeneration programme, which will contribute towards the pledge to develop 1,000 new homes at council level rent. The “buy-back” of owned properties on the estates will help existing homeowners wishing to move away or sell their home, and help clear the way for redevelopment.

Council officials dealt with 4 requests for details relating to the “buy-back” scheme and proposed demolitions during the Inspection of Accounts process. These can be accessed from the links below:

7. Register of CIL and S106 money held by the council (B)

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and “Section 106” agreements enable councils to raise funds from developers undertaking building projects. The money raised can be used to compensate for or mitigate the impact of the proposed developments, and pay for the infrastructure needed to support development - like transport, schools, health facilities, and parks.

Council officials dealt with requests for details relating to CIL and S106 funding during the Inspection of Accounts process. These can be accessed from the link below.

8. Insurance Policy Documentation

Council officials dealt with 1 request for details relating to Insurance Policy Documentation during the Inspection of Accounts process. This can be accessed from the link below.

9. Miscellaneous documents

Council officials dealt with 78 requests for details relating to miscellaneous information during the Inspection of Accounts process. A selection of these can be accessed from the links below.

10. Pay policy

Every year, Lambeth Council publishes its Statement of Accounts, setting out how much money the council has received during the year, and what it has spent money on. The statement is prepared in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 and the Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) for 2018/19.

The accounts also include details of “remuneration”, defined as “amounts paid to or receivable by”, senior officers and other employees receiving £50,000 or more, excluding pension contributions. The number of officers employed by Lambeth Council on salaries of over £50,000 has increased in recent years. However, this increase is mainly due to the effects of pay inflation, which has pushed up pay-levels across the board.

It is therefore untrue to say that Lambeth employs a large number of extra “senior managers”, as has been claimed in some places; the officers in posts where salaries have increased beyond £50,000 due to inflation remain at the same level of seniority.

The analysis below gives more details.