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Councils to choose their own auditors, DCLG confirms

LOCAL AUTHORITIES will be free to appoint their own independent auditors from an open market under proposals formalised by the government yesterday.

The Department for Communities and Local Government published proposals on the audit of local government following the abolition of the Audit Commission. Under the proposals, councils and other public bodies will be able to appoint their own auditors. This will be regulated by the National Audit Office and the Financial Reporting Council.

The government has said that it intends to publish a draft bill to formally close down the commission by Spring this year.

Local government minister Grant Shapps (pictured) said: “We are taking another step down to road to replacing expensive centralised local public audit with a more streamlined and competitive local audit structure. Councils are already showing they can be open and accountable – publishing details on their day to day business from spending to structure and taking control of their own auditing affairs.”

“The plans will see “Whitehall take another step back so that councils can begin to take ownership of their new audit system”, he added. “Robust and independent external audit will continue. We want councils to be part of how we create a better, more efficient and transparent audit service that offers best value for money and properly serves taxpayers.”

Ian Carruthers, policy & technical director at CIPFA, said the government’s response was “helpful” but added “there remain areas for concern, and considerable further work is required to develop the detailed practical guidance necessary for individual bodies to implement the government’s proposals consistently and cost-effectively”.

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