Lighter touch auditing for smaller councils

2 Aug 01
The Audit Commission is introducing 'a lighter touch' system for auditing 10,000 parish, town and community councils in England and Wales.

03 August 2001

But the serious purpose is to save money, both in its own administration of the audits and for councils in the fees they pay.

The current arrangements, the commission says, involve a cost and regulatory burden that is 'disproportionate to the amounts of public money involved', and which its own audit suppliers have found 'wholly uneconomic'. Instead, the commission proposes dividing councils into three tiers.

Full audit will continue for the 41 largest councils which are statutory Best Value authorities.

The 500 other councils with income or expenditure in excess of £100,000 would be subject to an intermediate audit, based on the regime of independent examination that the Charity Commission applies to charities with annual turnover up to £250,000.

The commission says that the 85% of councils with an income or expenditure of £100,000 or less would receive 'a very basic audit, involving a high-level analytical review, for which they will pay only a low fixed fee'.

Martin Evans, the commission's director of audit policy, said: 'The existing regime is unaffordable for local councils and uneconomic for auditors.

'These proposals will help to promote proper standards of conduct and strengthen the accountability of local councils.'


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