October 2023 update

This edition of our quarterly e-bulletin includes an update on the 2022/23 audit opinion delivery, news on our consultation on 2023/24 audit scale fees and a summary of local audit news from elsewhere.

We hope that you continue to find our e-bulletin to be useful. We welcome your thoughts on future topics that you would like us to cover (contact the team).


2022/23 audit opinion delivery

On 10 October we issued a press release announcing the number of audit opinions completed for the 2022/23 audits was only 5 out of 467. The release sets out the scale of the huge challenge that local audit is facing.

The cumulative position of 918 delayed audit opinions emphasises how important it is that there is a successful conclusion to the intensive ongoing work to find a solution to the backlog, and to ensure that it does not recur. PSAA is making every effort to support this work in collaboration with fellow members of the Local Audit Liaison Committee. We will update when we are able to.

The release was covered in several media, including by Room 151.

Update on our consultation on the fee scale for 2023/24 audits

Our consultation on the fee scale for 2023/24 audits closed on 10 October. We invited all opted-in bodies, our contracted audit firms and key stakeholders to provide feedback on the consultation proposals. Separately we informed opted-in bodies of the calculation for their 2023/24 scale audit fee based on the elements set out in the fee scale consultation.

On 26 September we held a webinar for opted-in bodies to support our consultation process. The aim of the webinar was to explain the different elements of the proposed 2023/24 fee scale, and to provide the opportunity to ask questions to help inform responses to the consultation. The webinar attracted over 115 delegates. The slides, a recording and a set of questions and answers are available on our website.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the consultation and share their views. The PSAA Board will carefully consider all feedback at its November meeting. We will publish the final 2023/24 fee scale and our consultation response on our website by Thursday 30 November 2023, and write to all those consulted as soon as possible.

Additional information for 2022/23 audits

In September we published a briefing to support fee variation discussions between opted-in bodies and auditors for the 2022/23 audits.

The briefing sets out information on the expected impact on audit fees of the requirement for a VFM arrangements commentary in the Code of Audit Practice 2020 and some changes in auditing and accounting standards. It includes minimum fee ranges for some additional audit requirements and sets out the factors that may influence local fee variations.

Contract Monitoring Data Pack: Quarter 1 for 2023/24

We have published our Contract Monitoring Data Pack: Quarter 1 for 2023/24. We produce quarterly reports on our contracted firms, building up information as the year progresses. The data pack covers audit opinions, approved fee variations and electors’ objections as of 30 June 2023. The position at the end of September will follow in November.

Contract monitoring data packs for previous quarters are available to view on our website.

Latest Annual Report and Accounts published

We have published our Annual Report and Accounts for 2022/23, covering our eighth full year of operation. The past year has again been challenging and turbulent for all parties involved in the local audit market, and included our significant procurement.

The high number of audits that are delayed continue to be our primary concern. Disappointingly, 88% of 2021/22 audits were not concluded by the target date of 30 November 2022, adding to the backlog (as described above, the backlog level has increased further).

Local audit news from elsewhere

On 27 September CIPFA issued a press release announcing that Rob Whiteman will retire as CIPFA’s CEO.

Treasury minutes covering the Government’s response to the Committee of Public Accounts on 24 September included a response on the Timeliness of local auditor reporting. This follows the publication of related reports by the NAO in January 2023 and the Public Accounts Committee in June 2023.

The Local Audit Liaison Committee met on 20 September. DLUHC will publish minutes for this meeting in due course.

CIPFA and ICAEW announced a fast-track pathway to dual members on 11 September. The announcement was also covered by CIPFA. CPFA and ACA accountants will have the opportunity to gain dual membership and designation in 2024. CIPFA and ICAEW announced the accelerated route for newly qualified chartered accountants as part of their commitment to closer working. The aim is to foster greater collaboration and movement between the public and private sectors.

DLUHC’s consultation on Best value standards and intervention – a statutory guide for best value authorities closed on 15 August. The consultation sought views on statutory guidance for local authorities in England, including combined authorities and combined county authorities, on the Best Value Duty. The outcome of this will be published on the consultation web page.

On 8 August the FRC issued a consultation on revisions to the FRC’s Ethical Standard to further enhance and clarify the principles of integrity, objectivity and independence auditors must abide by. The deadline for consultation responses is 31 October 2023.