Fee fears over Scots audit code.

Firms north of the border have said a new code that created ‘broader’ terms of reference would increase the need to employ expensive, specialised staff which would, in-turn, add weight to the profession’s argument that the fee structure in Scotland needs overhauling. Complaints already exist that fees do not measure up to the level paid by the Audit Commission in England and Wales. Bob Black, Scotland’s auditor general, has expressed sympathy with the position, promising to look carefully at pay levels. But he is working on a new code and firms say there is ‘anxiety’ about what might result. Grant Macrae, a partner in public sector audit for KPMG, said: ‘The broader we make the scope of audit the more, in consequence, we have to have specialised skills.’ A review of the code in Scotland has already been announced, though sources at Audit Scotland have indicated the new code would not be anywhere near as ‘flexible’ as the recently revamped code launched by the Audit Commission south of the border. That code was far less prescriptive and gave auditors a freer role in making risk assessments and then tailor making the audit to fit the conclusions. With the advent of the Scottish parliament audit has been restructured with what Bob Black has described as ‘a much more complex and high profile’ nature than before. Black has already launched a procurement review in Scotland and has ordered re-tendering for the audit contracts for 2002-2003.

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