Audit forum row

A senior public sector audit official told Accountancy Age the PAF would be launched on 12 October, when ‘channels of communication would be opened to ensure there is a proper dialogue around the critical issues’. He said the PAF would have a major impact on the world of public audit.

But Michael Dallas, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ public sector partner, said there was no need for fundamental change to the public sector audit regime.

‘There is nothing at the moment to drive any change to the current structure,’ he said.

‘Lord Nolan (in his report on standards in public life) carried out a review of the structure and his report suggested no change was necessary.’

In the leaked report, a consultative group, comprising the National Audit Office, Audit Commission, the Accounts Commission for Scotland and the Northern Ireland Audit Office, said the PAF would produce common audit standards for all publicly-funded bodies. The forum’s members will include representatives from various government departments, accountancy firms and CIPFA.

A draft copy of the report, seen by Accountancy Age, sets out three key principles for public audit: the independence of public sector auditors; the wide scope of public audit, regularity, and value for money, and the ability of public auditors to make their findings publicly available.

Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown called for a single public-spending watchdog at last week’s party conference in Brighton. It should monitor service agreements between government ministers and parliament containing precise targets, and publish annual performance reports.

‘We must find new ways to reconnect the taxes people pay with the services that flow from them,’ Ashdown said.

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