Nottingham City Council has been ordered to publish a report into how it manages its finances following an appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Auditors were asked to review the Labour-run authority’s books after significant misspending was uncovered in 2021.

The council released a summary of the findings but not the entire document.

Now it has been told it must disclose the full report.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) appealed to the ICO after the council refused a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, and a subsequent internal review, over the review triggered by misspending, totalling £51m, in its Housing Revenue Account in 2021.

The council had unlawfully used money ringfenced for housing to prop up its day-to-day spending.

On Friday, the ICO ruled the council must publish the report, compiled by accountants Ernst and Young, within 35 days.

The summary of the report had shown the firm found the council’s financial management was “not fit for purpose”.

‘Public interest’

However, the authority argued full disclosure “may impact on further activity” to try to address its financial difficulties.

The council, which declared itself effectively bankrupt in November by issuing a section 114 notice, has said it will comply with the ICO ruling.

A council spokesman said: “The Information Commissioner has made clear in the decision notice that the council had legitimate concerns around the disclosure of the report and that it had engaged the exemption not to publish correctly.

“However, they have decided that on balance, the public interest outweighed the exemption in this case.”

He added: “It’s important to make clear that key information included in the report had already been published in a public report to the council’s audit committee.

“The council took the view that the full report was of a technical nature designed to support the work of professional officers.

“The council has never shied away from the seriousness of the findings as explicitly set out in the report to the audit committee and has been focused on addressing those weaknesses.”

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