Addressing the local audit backlog in England

Closes 7 Mar 2024

Opened 8 Feb 2024

Overview

Topic of this consultation:

Local audit is both a vital and independent source of assurance and a key element of the checks and balances within the local accountability framework. The backlog in the publication of audited accounts of local bodies in England has grown to an unacceptable level.

This consultation seeks views on amending the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015 as part of a package of cross-system measures to clear the backlog and put the system on a sustainable footing.

This document should be read in conjunction with the Joint Statement from system partners, including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Scope of this consultation:

The proposals covered by this consultation relate specifically to ‘Category 1’ Authorities. Category 1 bodies encompass local authorities, but also police and fire bodies, as well as bodies such as National Parks Authorities, waste authorities and Passenger Transport Authorities.

More specifically, in accordance with the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, a “Category 1 authority” means a relevant authority that either—

(a) is not a smaller authority; or

(b) is a smaller authority that has chosen to prepare its accounts for the purpose of a full audit in accordance with the Local Audit (Small Authorities) Regulations 2015.

For the definition of “relevant authority”, see section 2 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

For the definition of a “smaller authority”, see section 6 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

Geographical scope:

The questions in this consultation relate to local bodies in England, as defined above.

Consultees:

In accordance with section 32 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, there is a statutory duty to consult the following entities in relation to amendments to the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015:

  • the Comptroller and Auditor General,
  • such representatives of relevant authorities as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate, and
  • the recognised supervisory bodies

This is an open consultation, and we welcome the views of any individual or entity interested in the proposals, including all Category 1 authorities (as defined above), audit firms, and other organisations which form part of the local audit framework.

Give us your views