ACCA blasts public audit plans

ACCA HAS SPOKEN out against the Department of Communities and Local Government’s plan for the future of public audit, saying accountability and the public purse could be at risk.

It backed criticism offered by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, which warned that auditor independence is at risk under the proposed scheme.

The institute suggested that the current plans, which would see local authorities appoint their own auditors, could lead to wasted funds and lack of assurance about value for money; it challenged the government to provide assurances to the contrary.

ACCA also raised serious concerns about the way in which the decision to abolish the Audit Commission was taken, saying it lacked supportive financial and qualitative data. Head of technical John Davies said: “It was disappointing to read that the minister could not provide any evidence to support the predicted £50m of savings that were announced.”

A review of public audit was one of the suggestions supported by ACCA, saying it was “long overdue”; the institute accused the DCLG of missing opportunities to improve the audit framework and said that ongoing uncertainty surrounding the Audit Commission’s future could undermine a smooth transition to the new system.

ACCA’s head of public sector, Gillian Fawcett, advised the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. She underlined the importance of accountability and public trust, saying: “Both the select committee’s report and the DCLG’s own consultation highlight shortcomings in existing proposals. We are at risk of losing an approach that uses the skills and experience of auditors to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of public services.”

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