Housing stock over-valuation leaves council with red faces

Reporter:

Jim Green

A COUNCIL has overestimated the value of its housing stock by nearly £130 million due to a “book-keeping error”.

Flintshire Council’s audit committee was told yesterday that auditors had reduced the value of the authority’s housing stock by £128 million.

Auditors reviewing the council’s draft 2010/11 accounts also recommended the authority undertakes a full revaluation of its stock next year to avoid any future mistakes.

Ewloe Cllr Alison Halford said: “In very gross language we have sloppy ways of valuing our housing stock.

“Put very simply, something has gone wrong with our valuation system. We have been let down badly.”

Colin Everett, chief executive of Flintshire Council, said he was “disappointed” but the error would not have any impact on the authority’s housing strategy.

A report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) said the council revalued around 20 per cent of its 7,400 homes each year and should replace the historic valuations of those properties with the new figures.

But the authority incorrectly used the figures as a basis to revalue its entire housing stock.

WAO’s John Herniman told councillors the housing valuation figures in the draft accounts were overstated by £128 million.

He also said the council had not valued a proper sample of its stock and had not taken into account the type of housing.

“It is purely a book-keeping issue,” he said. “The valuers have done what they are paid to do but the information has been misinterpreted.”

Mr Herniman said the council would need to revalue every property if the proposed stock transfer to a not-for-profit social landlord goes ahead.

Buckley Cllr Mike Peers said: “The important thing is we now know about this and can do something about it.”

See full story in the Leader

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