Councils file clean accounts for 2014/15

10 Dec 15

No councils have had their 2014/15 accounts qualified as yet, the first overview report from Public Sector Audit Appointments has revealed.

PSAA, a company set up to manage public sector audit contracts following the abolition of the Audit Commission, found auditors at 345 of 356 councils (97%) were able to issue the opinion on the accounts by the statutory accounts publication date of 30 September 2015.

Ninety seven per cent of police bodies and fire and rescue authorities also received the audit opinion by this date.

Although no qualified audit opinions have been issued to date for the second year in a row, a number of qualified conclusions on value for money arrangements were made.

The report found that 17 councils, one police body and one fire and rescue authority were qualified on value for money, which at around 4% of principal bodies is the same proportion as for 2013/14.

Auditors’ value-for-money judgements determine whether a public body has made proper arrangements for securing economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources.

Eighteen “qualified except for” judgements were issued, meaning auditors were satisfied proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness had been made, except for one or more specific weaknesses. An adverse judgement on value for money was issued for Rotherham council, meaning auditors were not satisfied that proper value for money arrangements were in place. During 2014/15, the then local government secretary Eric Pickles suspend executive functions at the authority, calling it ‘dysfunctional’ and appointing commissioners led by Sir Derek Myers to run the authority.

PSAA said the report showed timeliness and quality of financial reporting in 2014/15 remained broadly consistent with the previous year. Against a background of financial challenges, the sector was working hard to achieve appropriate standards in its stewardship of resources, the report concluded.

The report also confirmed that City of Westminster council had closed its audited accounts on 18 May, setting a new record for approval and one day quicker than traditional frontrunners Oldham.

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