‘Radical’ parish audit overhaul.

The audit arrangements for parish councils have been officially declared ‘unsustainable’ and reform proposals, including creating a monopoly in the supply of audit services, have been put forward, writes Gavin Hinks. Options for a ‘radical overhaul’ of audit for the smallest local authorities have been published in an Audit Commission paper, which attempts to spark a debate. Proposals include exempting small councils from audit as part of a so-called ‘lighter touch’ regime which would also involve the use of ‘less rigorous forms of scrutiny’. Another option is raising fee levels to allow auditors to provide a better service. Martin Evans, director of audit policy at the Commission, said: ‘Local councils, as well as the Audit Commission and its auditors now consider the present audit regime is unsustainable. ‘The aim of this paper is to stimulate a debate on the changes necessary to improve the audit process for both local councils and auditors alike.’

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