Private firm to be created to manage doomed Audit Commission's affairs
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
Audit Commission outlines interim inspections arrangements
The Local Government Association has been chosen by the Department for Communities and Local Government to create a transitional private company to manage the affairs of the doomed Audit Commission.
The government is to close down the AC in March 2015, and the Local Audit and Accountability Act established the requirement for a transitional body, responsible for overseeing the Commission’s current external audit contracts with private audit firms for both principal audited bodies and smaller bodies, until the new audit framework comes fully into force.
The AC's current staff will transfer to the new independent company where they will continue to deliver the transitional body’s oversight functions.
These include: appointing auditors; regulating the work auditors do; setting scales of fees for audit work; determining final fees and ensuring the quality of the work provided by the audit firms is of the required standard.
Jeremy Newman, AC chairman, said: “One of the Commission’s key aims during this process is to ensure that independent governance and accountability are in place to support the retained statutory functions and to protect the integrity of our appointed auditors and the external audit contracts.
"The transitional body will also provide independent data on the value for money of local public services to auditors and the public, through the VFM Profiles tool.
"It’s important that the tool should continue and that it does so in an independent organisation. We are now well placed to make final adjustments to our plans and deliver the work programme necessary for a smooth transition to the new audit arrangements.”
Also transferring to the transitional firm will be the AC's value for money profiles tool, which brings together data about the cost, performance and activity of local councils and fire authorities. If the most recent briefing on waste management is included, the tool drew attention to potential opportunities to save £2.2 billion across local government.
The AC's controller of audit, Marcine Waterman, said: “We are pleased that the identity of the transitional body has finally been confirmed. I thank my staff for their considerable patience.
"They have managed England’s audit contracts, representing some £85 million per year of the local public audit market, with professionalism and dedication, in the shadow of uncertainty. The core element of the Commission’s legacy is its staff and for those transferring to the private company, their future is now more certain.
"The transfer means that the public sector will retain access to specialist skills, in which the Audit Commission and its staff have invested considerable time and resource. We will work with the LGA, and the new independent private company, to optimise the retention of staff and minimise any disruption.”