Government acts to tackle failure of Croydon Council
Local Government Secretary announces new measures to address the serious failures at Croydon Council
• Government publishes rapid review into Croydon Council’s governance and risk management
• Expert panel led by Tony McArdle has been appointed to help council improve
• Improvement plan has been submitted to the Local Government Secretary
Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has today (1 February 2021) announced measures to address the serious failures at Croydon Council and begin to turn it around so it can deliver value for money for the taxpayer.
An Improvement and Assurance Panel, comprised of local government and finance experts, has been appointed to support and challenge Croydon’s improvement progress and make regular reports to the Secretary of State.
The panel will be led by Tony McArdle, who will be supported by Margaret Lee and Phil Brookes.
The measures come in response to a rapid non-statutory review commissioned in October to examine the council’s overall governance, culture and risk management following the announcement that it would seek exceptional financial support from MHCLG.
Councils have a duty to manage taxpayers’ money responsibly and it is right that they are held to account where they are found to have failed to do so. The review team, led by Chris Wood, found “significant failings in the leadership and management” at Croydon Council which had led to failures in identifying, escalating and addressing financial risk.
The report highlighted the council’s poor track record in managing budgets, poorly managed commercial ventures and low levels of reserves which caused significant issues.
The council has now submitted the next iteration of their Improvement Plan. This will be considered alongside the Panel’s findings and the council’s request for financial support.
Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:
"The rapid review into Croydon Council found serious failings in governance, financial strategy and commercial investments which have led to taxpayers and residents being severely let down over a number of years.
"This must end now, and I have appointed an expert panel to help the council urgently address the issues they face and deliver a comprehensive recovery plan. I will be monitoring progress closely and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary."
In the event of a failure by the council to demonstrate significant progress, a more formal statutory intervention will be considered, including the appointment of commissioners.
The findings of the review have been published alongside the Local Government Secretary’s letter to lead reviewer Chris Wood and a letter appointing Tony McArdle as Chair of the Improvement Panel.