Comments from ACCA
Overall, we welcome a number of the proposals set out in this consultation, albeit, it would have been helpful to have been able to comment on future proposals at an earlier stage of the policy decision-making process. It would also have been helpful if the consultation had considered alternative options for delivering local government audit, such as whether or not a unitary system of audit would have been a viable option.
We have some concerns that the consultation doesn't consider a number of issues that will need to be addressed following the abolition of the Audit Commission (the Commission) and these are listed below.
- The Commission's inspection and research activities.
- Value for money studies undertaken by an auditor with the agreement of the audited body or identified by the National Audit Office (NAO) for a national study.
- Anti-fraud and corruption work, in particular, the national fraud initiative (NFI). The Commission has had a valuable role in protecting the public purse through data matching and surveying local government. In 2010 the Commission's survey identified £135 million of local government fraud.
- The audit and co-ordination of grant certification work. Currently, local authorities receive around £46 billion of grants and funding from government departments.
- The co-ordination of the whole of government accounts (WGA) and how this will work in practice e.g. the role of the National Audit Office (NAO) and audit firms.
- The transfer of the in-house audit practice of the Commission, although we understand that a Ministerial decision is imminent.
- A holistic picture of how the regulatory framework will be administered.
- Other sectors and ad hoc organisations which currently fall under the remit of the Commission such as health, police and fire and emergency authorities and the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) etc. However, we understand that some but not all sectors, such as health will be addressed as part of the wider health reforms.
We would like to see the issues listed above addressed by the Government in a timely and cost effective manner and as part of its broader suite of reforms for local government. This will be critical for ensuring that expertise and experience developed over a considerable number of years is not lost to the sector and public audit more widely.
Read the full policy submission from ACCA