Concern has been growing within local government (and elsewhere) regarding the effective provision of external audit services. The Committee considered a report on various national reviews affecting local public audit and their implications for the Local Authority as well as updates on options and the timetable for appointing future external auditors set by the Public Sector Audit Authority (PSAA).
The External Auditors made reference to historic issues within the sector affecting both public and commercial audits which need to be addressed.
In response to a question regarding the costs of future audits, members were advised that there needed to be a balance so that fees might increase but the audits would be of better quality, provide a better assessment of value for money and would be done on time.
Some concern was expressed regarding the potentially short period of time for this committee to make a recommendation to Council by February 2022 around the procurement of external audit services, and it was requested that the views of the Administration, officers and of SMDC around this issue be included in the report to the next meeting of this committee.
1. That the progress that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has made in responding to Sir Tony Redmond’s review into the effectiveness of external audit and transparency of financial reporting in local authorities be noted;
2. That the proposal for further reports to this committee recommending any changes locally to current audit and governance processes, once MHCLG has finalised its proposed actions nationally be approved;
3. That the need for a recommendation by this committee to Council by Friday 11 March 2022 to formally respond and accept (or decline) the opt-in invitation from Public Sector Audit Authority (PSAA) to join the procurement of bulk external audit services (to be the subject to a separate report) be noted.