“SIGNIFICANT weaknesses” within the council’s finance department are set to be addressed as senior councillors approve restructure.

Changes are to be made within Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) finance team to include more investment and permanent senior officers as well as less reliance on interim staff.

The Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accounting and external auditors Grant Thornton found ‘significant weaknesses’ within the finance department and strongly recommended the council enhance and invest significantly more into it.

SBC effectively declared bankruptcy in July and is needing to sell off its assets and make massive savings to reduce its debt and blackhole. A primary factor it got into this mess was historic accounting errors.

Royal Borough Observer: Chief finance officer Steven MairChief finance officer Steven Mair

Since then, the council brought in chief finance officer Steven Mair and his ‘A-team’ of accountants to fix its problems, resulting in £4.1m spent on interim staff as most permanent finance officers jumped ship.

Within the restructure, which was approved at a cabinet meeting on Monday, June 20, it plans to increase the council’s 61 staffed finance team by six more staff members.

The restructure also adds more senior posts to bring ‘great leadership, direction, and capability’ as officers work to stabilise the council in the next three to four years.

READ MORE: Slough Council's finance department set to see major changes

The plan also brings internal audit, commercial, and anti-fraud department, in-house, taking the new finance structure to 90 employees.

Cllr Rob Anderson (Lab: Britwell & Northborough) said he hopes this new structure will dose the fires and ensure the financial crisis never happens again. He also said because there are so few permanent staff, there will be no compulsory redundancies.

He said: “We need to get to a position where we are no longer firefighting but actually, we are making proactive and sensible decisions in taking the council forward based on sound financial governance and advice.”

READ MORE: Slough's crisis makes council 'not attractive' to work for

Compared with local authorities similar in size, the town would have more finance officers working for them. Cllr Anderson said this reflects the large situation at hand to get the council on financial stability.

Alongside this, SBC has ‘ambition’ to have one of the ‘best finance functions in local government’ where staff ‘feel proud’ to work for the council. There’s also ambition to ‘grow their own’ within the department.

Once this reshuffle is complete later this year, it will be reviewed post-2025/26.

Cllr Anderson said some posts might be deleted as there will be “less fires to be put out” at that point.