Cllr Paul Tilsley lifts the lid on the financial fiasco at Birmingham City Council

9 May 2024
Paul Tilsley at full council

A speech delivered by Cllr Tilsley to full council in April 2024:

Thank you Lord Mayor. 

In the real world, an audit committee is recognized as the most important sub-committee of any organisation, and yet in Birmingham we treat it as a Cinderella, and of late, as a whipping boy.  

As far as I'm concerned, I've chaired 4 different audit committees within the NHS. I’ve chaired the audit committee at the NEC, I've chaired the audit committee at the airport, and I've also chaired another charitable audit committee.  

Thank you, Cllr Grindrod, for your comments. I hope I do take a considered view of these issues. There are really 2 issues that have come to visit the council that are now see us in the position that we are in, and the one leads us on to the other.  

If you read the report that Cllr Grindrod has gone through, if you read page 8 of the report of the audit committee, it says that in October the committee were advised that the latest valuation of outstanding equal pay liability was £1225 million, and that was accepted by Grant Thornton because they were within 2 weeks of signing off those accounts. 

And yet we now find ourselves in a situation where that £1225 million is now £760 million and has led us into the position that we are in today. 

The other problem is Oracle, because we haven’t been able to get proper accounts. It’s on record Lord Mayor that we had paid an additional licence fee to SAP to extend the licence for their financial controls. Unfortunately, it was switched off, so we had a new system that wasn’t operative, and we had an old system that had been switched off.  

We have got no financial controls and that has led us into the situation that we have got today. 

Now we’ve asked the questions. We’ve asked the questions all the way through, and there’s been prevarication, and at times, total deception, I have to say. And as Cllr Grindrod said, in April 2023, 4 questions were asked by my colleagues, specifically about Oracle, and they were all swept under the carpet. 

There are a number of people who need to answer a number of questions, but we will not get the answers. The other thing that really concerns me, is stability in senior officers, because frankly since 2012 we have had a revolving door of officers going in and out of this organisation. 

When we were in control, we had a chief executive for 7 years that I worked with.  

We had stability, and I think that the only way that this council is going to return, is to achieve that stability again. As far as I'm concerned Lord Mayor, we have asked the questions. Audit has done its job, but it’s still treated as the whipping boy and the Cinderella of Birmingham City Council. 

Thank you. 

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