Investigation after claims that £15 million Milton Keynes Council cash is “currently unaccounted for”.
Allegations that housing contractor Mears has overcharged Milton Keynes Council by up to £80,000 every month for tenants’ repairs are under investigation by auditors.
Also under scrutiny is a claim that around £15million of council cash is “currently unaccounted for” by Mears .
Council leader Pete Marland MK Council received the allegations from a whistleblower.
After the claims were examined by its officers, the council called in Ernst Young auditors to conduct a full probe into the account it holds with Mears Group plc.
The move is said to have caused red faces all round as the council is official partners with private company Mears over the city’s £1b regeneration project. Together they set up YourMK in 2016 to deliver repairs and maintenance services for the council’s stock of 11,500 homes.
This week MK Council leader Pete Marland said: “The council received a whistleblowing allegation regarding spending on our housing repairs contract.”
Tory group leader Alex Walker He added: “We have asked our external auditors to investigate fully, as is right, to establish if the allegation has any basis and will act accordingly.”
Opposition Conservative councillors have revealed they have been concerned for some time over the council’s lack of oversight on the housing repairs and maintenance contract.
Tory group leader Councillor Alex Walker said : “These are deeply concerning allegations and huge sums of money. It is right that auditors have been called in. I hope they will have access to all the information they need.”
He added: “Once the investigation is over, and if there has been foul play, the Labour Cabinet and officers will have big questions to answer. And I want to assure Council tenants we will be relentless in getting to the bottom of what’s gone on. “There have long been concerns with Your MK’s capacity and a lack of oversight from Milton Keynes Council.
There will also be question marks with what this means for the regeneration project, something which the Council has not covered itself in glory over.”
The Mears Group press office has denied any knowledge of the audit and said the allegations were “completely unsubstantiated” A spokesman said: “Mears does not in any way recognise these claims and are not aware of any audit being undertaken within the council. Mears operates transparent accounting in all of our public contracts.”
WHY NO INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION IN BRIGHTON AND HOVE?
Their has already been fraud conducted in Brighton and Hove totally over 500k, many tenants and leaseholders have claimed Mears subcontractors went out to do work and didn’t actually do the work. There have been numerous complaints around invoicing for works which haven’t taken place, which is part of the reason some services, less than 1/3 will be coming back in-house.
Brighton and Hove City Council should immediately follow Milton Keynes suit and launch an immediate investigation. We have been contacted by tenants and leaseholders who continue to have issues. £30 million annually is spent paying Mears, its imperative the council are pushing to claim back all monies fraudulently invoiced and look to gain significant compensation for this deliberate wrongdoing.
It’s fleecing the city when we need urgent funds to deal with the homelessness crisis.