Most local bodies opting in to Public Sector Audit Appointments

25 Jan 17

A large majority of local authorities in England look likely to use Public Sector Audit Appointments to procure their auditors – but any intending to do so must notify them by 9 March, its chair Steve Freer has said.

Speaking to PF, Freer revealed that, as of mid-January, more than 200 of 493 eligible local bodies had registered with PSAA, with many more set to come on stream.

“Our doors are open until 9 March and, at the moment, we’re pretty confident we’re going to have at least 400 authorities in the scheme by the time we close them,” he said.

However, Freer stressed that the deadline was looming if authorities wanted to make use of PSAA’s services for the 2018-19 financial year; auditors for 2018-19 need to be appointed by December this year.

Any bodies planning to join PSAA need the approval of full council or the equivalent, Freer noted. “Bodies must get themselves organised and make sure it’s on the agenda.  ere is a very clear closing date on the opportunity and people do need to be mindful of that.”

PSAA was established after the Audit Commission was abolished, initially with the short-term objective of managing and maintaining local audit contracts with private firms, including those that had been negotiated when the commission’s in-house audit practice was outsourced.

The Department for Communities & Local Government later asked PSAA to establish and oversee a national audit appointments and fee-setting scheme for local bodies that chose not to use their new powers to make local appointments.

Freer told PF that any local authorities registering with PSAA could expect to benefit from “very competitive prices” because of bulk purchasing.

He added that, because PSAA had been established on a not-for-profit basis, any surpluses would be recycled back to member bodies.

“We can guarantee an appointment to everybody that chooses to join the scheme, and will ensure that appointments comply with important independence standards which are key for confidence in the quality of the audit.”

Where local bodies are collaborating or sharing services, PSAA will, if requested, endeavour to appoint a common auditor, Freer said.

Local authorities eligible to register with PSAA include councils (this covers combined authorities), fire and rescue authorities, police bodies, waste authorities and national park authorities. NHS bodies are not covered and are making local audit appointments.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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