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Pickles confirms Newman as Audit Commission chair

By Vivienne Russell | 19 September 2012

Jeremy Newman has been confirmed as the new chair of the Audit Commission, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced today.

A chartered accountant and former chief executive of BDO International, Newman was named as the government’s preferred candidate last month and had to attend a pre-appointment hearing before the Commons communities and local government select committee.

Confirming Newman in post, Pickles said: ‘Jeremy brings significant knowledge of audit and a proven track record of delivery, which will be essential as he oversees the commission's closure and the smooth transfer to the new local audit regime.’

He will take up the role on October 1, on a salary of £30,000 a year for six days work a month. This compares with the £90,000 paid to the incumbent chair Michael O’Higgins.

Welcoming the appointment of his successor, O’Higgins said: ‘The Audit Commission is extremely fortunate to have such a renowned accountancy high flier leading it into its new phase. Jeremy will, I am sure, maintain the organisation’s strong authoritative voice as it focuses on the regulation of public audit.

‘He will find a commission that is in good shape and good heart, working well with government on the future of public audit, and with a strong team in place to carry on this vital public role.’

O’Higgins added that Newman and new controller of audit Marcine Waterman would make an ‘excellent team’.

Newman said that, despite the limited time remaining for the Audit Commission, the importance of cost-effective public audit work had never been greater.

He added: ‘The commission is an iconic “brand” in the world of regulation, and it will be a professional pleasure to meet some of the people who have helped build its reputation.’

Ministers announced plans to scrap the Audit Commission in August 2010. Since then its inspection work has ceased and its audit work outsourced to private firms.

Draft legislation to bring in a new local audit regime was published in July and details are currently out for consultation.

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