A PRIVATE firm that has been paid millions of pounds of taxpayers' cash to provide public services, is more than two months late in filing its accounts.
Southwest One, a joint venture between American IT giant IBM, and minority partners Somerset County Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Avon and Somerset Police, was set up to provide back office services and save money for the three public bodies.
The deal signed by the police is worth up to £185 million over 10 years, and includes control of the force's estates, facilities management and procurement, as well as inquiry offices.
The firm was due to have filed its first set of accounts at Companies House by July 18.
But it has yet to do so and now faces an automatic fine, which escalates the longer it takes for the accounts to be filed.
Jill Sillifant, director of relationship management at Southwest One, blamed the delay on it being a new company.
She said: "Southwest One Limited is a new company.
"When accounting systems and processes are first audited, delays are not unusual.
"Additionally, this first set of accounts covers 15 months rather than 12, from October 2007 to December 2008, rather than a single calendar year.
"Southwest One expects to file its accounts shortly."
Avon and Somerset Police Authority did not wish to make any comment, beyond stating the late filing penalty would be paid by IBM rather than taxpayers.
There are 600 police staff working for the company as part of the move to cut costs and streamline services such as human resources, IT support and finance.