PSAA expects Whitehall approval for local audit appointments

15 Jul 16

Public Sector Audit Appointments expects to gain government approval to become a body through which local authorities can opt to have their auditors chosen, a workshop at the CIPFA conference has heard.

Jon Hayes, PSAA’s chief officer, said Whitehall officials had indicated it would be awarded this role.

Councils could then choose to have auditors appointed by PSAA from those on its framework contract, rather than make their own appointments.

Hayes said: “It would be an opt in, it would not be compulsory for any local authority to use us.”

Keeley Lund, technical manager for professional standards at CIPFA, said the appetite for individual auditor appointments appeared “low in local government”.

But she reminded councils they could choose to appoint an auditor or work with other councils to do so.

Gareth Davies. former Audit Commission managing director of audit practice and now a partner at accountants Mazars, warned that members of the public often take an interest in local authority accounts data and “if they find an auditor appointed by the body being audited all hell can break lose”.

Davies said his firm would find the proposed PSAA framework “very attractive” as it would involve one bid to join its panel “rather than 300 presentations around the country”.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman, who chaired the meeting, questioned the effectiveness of local authority audit committees, saying they did not in his experience normally function in the way that non-executive directors do in the private sector.

“I’m not sure there is the link [there should be] between the audit committee and the executive committee,” he said.

“Audit committees should matter more than they do in local government now the Audit Commission has gone.”

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