NAO begins local government work

24 Apr 12
The National Audit Office met council representatives today as part of its preparations to take over work from the soon-to-be-abolished Audit Commission.
By Richard Johnstone | 24 April 2012

The National Audit Office met council representatives today as part of its preparations to take over work from the soon-to-be-abolished Audit Commission.
Checking a spreadsheet

The government plans to publish legislation before the end of next month to disband the commission, fulfilling the pledge it made in August 2010 to scrap the body. Last month, five-year contracts were agreed to outsource the local audits currently carried out by the in-house practice.

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s initial consultation on the changes said the NAO would produce a code of audit practice and supporting guidance when the commission goes. This will also form part of the audit arrangements when councils are given the responsibility to appoint their own auditors, most likely at the end of the five-year contracts. It is also set to take on some value for money studies.

As a result, the NAO has set up a Local Government Reference Panel to consult council representatives on issues relating to the value for money of local public services. It met today for the first time at the NAO’s London headquarters.

It is expected that the panel, chaired by Local Government Association chief executive Carolyn Downs, will meet twice a year to provide information for NAO studies. Members include officers from nine local authorities, as well as CIPFA chief executive Steve Freer.

At today’s meeting, representatives from the NAO provided information on its forthcoming value for money report on local government.

Speaking after the meeting, auditor general Amyas Morse said: ‘The National Audit Office is committed to working with local authorities as we develop our local government work. The establishment of this panel is a positive step towards achieving that aim. Our focus is going to be on issues across the whole local government sector and how they can best be addressed.’

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