NAO review aims to improve impact and timeliness of local audit

30 Aug 19

The public spending watchdog has launched a review of proposed changes to the code of audit practice, which aims to “refocus local audit”.

The National Audit Office’s is consulting on its new code with the aim of increasing impact and timeliness of local audit, the watchdog said.

Effective local audit provides the public and stakeholders with assurance about how their money is being spend and the code has a “significant influence” on this, the NAO said.

It is reviewed every five years by the watchdog and the updated version will come into effect by April 2020. When introduced it will apply to local bodies including councils, police, fire and NHS bodies.

The NAO said that key changes proposed in the draft code include a sharper focus on value for money and clearer expectations on timely and effective auditor reporting.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: “The new Code of Audit Practice is an important opportunity to refocus local audit: offering robust assurance, transparency and accountability for local taxpayers on how well their money is being spent.

“The code will bring a greater emphasis on value for money and aims to ensure auditors report in a more timely and impactful way.”

It comes weeks after the former communities secretary James Brokenshire announced a review on local authority audit.

Joanne Pitt, local government policy manager at CIPFA, said: “We welcome the opportunity to respond to the NAO Code of Audit Practice consultation.

“Audit plays a vital role in the assurance process for public sector organisations. We will be consulting with the sector to inform our response.”

An earlier consultation response on the code by the NAO noted that it would be looking closely at rising levels of commercialisation in local authorities.

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