Lack of audit work halts launch of DA Partnership employee-owned firm

DA PARTNERSHIP will be unable to continue its plans to create an employee-owned independent firm as previously hoped due to its disappointing contracts wins from the Audit Commission.

The firm has been provisionally awarded the Audit Commission contract for the North East and North Yorkshire, which it said it was excited about. However, as it had only achieved one contract from the Audit Commission it now has insufficient work to launch the independent firm.

A statement from DA Partnership said: Our excitement is tinged with disappointment that our bid (prepared with DA Partnership’s strategic partner Mazars) was not successful in other parts of the country.

“This means that we have insufficient work to launch as an employee-owned independent firm. Instead, DA Partnership becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mazars and will trade as Mazars DA.”

Grant Thornton provisionally won the most audit service contracts for local authorities and the NHS. All Audit Commission staff will move to the firms which have won contracts, with about 300 employees transferring to Grant Thornton.

The large firm has won five contracts in the North West; West Midlands; London (South), Surrey and Kent; and the South West regions.

Scott Barnes, chief executive officer of Grant Thornton, said: “This fantastic win for our Public Sector Assurance team confirms our reputation as leaders in the public sector market and demonstrates the strength and quality of Grant Thornton’s services… [We] look forward to working closely with new local authority and NHS clients to support their future development.”

Overall all contracts cover 70% of the Audit Commission’s work, with the appointments starting from 1 September. Audit Commission staff will transfer to the new suppliers on 31 October. The contract values are notional, based on proposed scale fees for 2012/2013.

Ernst & Young have been awarded provisional contracts for the East and South of England.

Björn Conway, head of Ernst & Young government and public sector said: “Public bodies face an unprecedented time in the next five years in balancing expenditure reduction while maintaining vital services and increasing expectations for better and more tailored services.

“We believe that by maintaining audit standards and local accountability public sector bodies will be able to drive value for money while delivering vital services across these regions.”

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