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Press Release

Report will lead to real value for money savings - Mayor
15-7-2008   370

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has welcomed the publication of the final report from the Forensic Audit Panel today. The report recommends potential efficiency savings within the Greater London Authority (GLA) of £7.7 million or approximately 10 to 15 per cent of the overall budget.

The Forensic Audit Panel, ‘identified failings in the London Development Agency’s (LDA) leadership, governance and basic controls’ and called for a streamlined LDA, which would be a strategic body, looking to others to deliver projects to meet the Mayor’s strategic priorities.

The Mayor made a manifesto commitment to launch an immediate review of City Hall finances and report initial findings within the first 100 days. One week after the Mayor was elected he announced the formation of a Forensic Audit Panel.

The panel was led by Patience Wheatcroft and its members include Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Patrick Frederick, Chief Executive of Aimex International, Cllr Edward Lister, Leader of Wandsworth Council and Andrew Gordon, Head of Investigations within the Forensic Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Boris Johnson said,

“The work of Patience Wheatcroft's independent Forensic Audit Panel has identified a series of areas where the GLA and LDA can cut waste and unnecessary bureaucracy and be far more effective at what they do.

‘There clearly needs to be less duplication, more accountability and real improvements made to management within the GLA and LDA.

‘I am determined that we will bring in the necessary changes to the way the two organisations work to deliver greater value for money and real improvements to services.

‘I am studying the report closely and will be discussing its recommendations with the First Deputy Mayor, Tim Parker.”

Patience Wheatcroft said,

“When the Mayor established the Forensic Audit Panel he asked me to identify areas within the GLA and the LDA where efficiencies can be made and resources redirected to the new Mayor's priorities without compromising on performance.

‘The Panel would like to thank the GLA and LDA management and staff for the cooperation they have given us. We have conducted extensive interviews with senior staff within the GLA and LDA, which have resulted in this detailed examination of the effectiveness of the structures, systems and role of the two organisations.

‘It is clear from our work that there have been significant failings in leadership, governance and basic controls within the LDA which have led to our conclusion that the former LDA board was ineffective and, indeed, the LDA Board failed in its responsibilities.

‘We also believe that significant cost savings can be achieved both within the GLA and LDA individually and also by exploiting synergies across the GLA Family.“

Ends.

Notes to Editors

1. The final Forensic Audit Panel report is available on: www.london.gov.uk

The Forensic Audit Panel looked at a series of projects and systems within the LDA and GLA in their investigation of financial management and controls and looked at a number of areas where savings can be made including:
· GLA Weather Stations Project - The panel questioned whether the GLA should fund a proposal for a weather stations project at a cost of over £30,000 or whether ‘the Met Office or local universities would be better placed to provide a lead’ in researching weather trends in London.
· Overseas Offices - The panel found the current arrangements for funding the GLA’s overseas offices are, ‘neither efficient nor coordinated in terms of the messages that various London bodies are sending out to Europe’.
· Competitive Tendering - The Encams (Capital Standards Street Environmental Improvement Programme) contract which cost £456,633 was not let competitively. The value of the contract was largely covered by the Capital Standards contributions received from 28 of the London boroughs, with the GLA contributing £26,000 plus inflation per annum.


· Inadequate checking on potential delivery partners - the panel noted the LDA awarded £36,900 to the European Federation of Black Women Business Owners in the period 2003 to 2007, in spite of the records filed at Companies House showing that this organisation was dormant for most or all of this period.

2. Forensic Audit Panel membership:

Patience Wheatcroft, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, a distinguished and long-serving Business Editor of The Times and currently Non Executive Director of Barclays PLC and Shaftesbury PLC.
The other members of the Forensic Audit Panel are: Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council; Patrick Frederick, Chief Executive of Aimex International and former Head of Global Custody Operations for JPMorgan; Edward Lister, Leader of Wandsworth Council, and Andrew Gordon, Head of Investigations within the Forensic Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who will act as Independent Expert Advisor to the Panel.

3. Forensic Audit Panel background:
Mayor of London announces new Forensic Audit Panel to investigate GLA and LDA – 8/5/08. More: Mayor of London announces new Forensic Audit Panel to investigate GLA and LDA
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available from Joe Derrett in the Mayor’s Press Office on 020 7983 4754 or by emailing strategydesk@london.gov.uk (numbers not for publication).

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000

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