January 2022 news bulletin

Welcome to our fifth PSAA e-bulletin.

A lot has happened since our last ebulletin was issued at the end of November, here are the headlines, with more detail set out in the bulletin content.

We have received many more acceptances to our opt-in invitation, despite the resurgence of Covid-19 challenges to local decision-making processes.

CIPFA CEO Rob Whiteman wrote a very helpful article supporting opting in to our scheme.

We held our second market engagement webinar with potential suppliers, and our third Autumn Winter Webinar for eligible bodies which focussed on ‘Audit Fees”.

The PSAA Board approved our final procurement strategy and the decision to begin the formal procurement process for audit services.

In other Local Audit news, in December DLUHC published its package of measures to help address timeliness of audit opinions, and ICAEW published its offer to help audit firms that may be interested in opportunities in the local government audit market to make contact with each other.

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

Yours sincerely Tony Crawley, Chief Executive, PSAA

Content:

 

Formal invitation to become an opted-in authority

It is now over four months since PSAA formally invited all eligible bodies to opt-in to the national scheme for local auditor appointments for the audits of 2023/24 through to 2027/28.  So far 169 eligible bodies have accepted the opt-in invitation, with a further 103 being progressed. As required by the Regulations, their names are published on our website.

As we have mentioned previously:

  • the decision to become an opted-in authority must be taken by the members of an authority meeting (i.e. Full Council or equivalent), except where the authority is a corporation sole, such as a police and crime commissioner, in which case this decision can be taken by the holder of that office; and
  • the closing date to notify PSAA of your authority’s acceptance of the invitation is Friday 11 March 2022.

If you have any questions about the process please contact us via [email protected]. You can find the latest information on our preparations for the second appointing period on our website and FAQs.

CIPFA support for opting in

We were really pleased to see an article from Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA, recommending that eligible bodies opt into our national scheme for auditor appointments, alongside talking about the recently announced measures to improve the vital issue of timeliness of local audit. Rob stressed the benefits of opting in to bring the sector together to meet the challenges ahead, which will need collaboration across all the bodies involved in the local audit system: ‘Collaboration key to reforming local audit

Market Engagement webinar with potential suppliers

On 26 January we held our second market engagement webinar with potential suppliers. We were delighted again to have the opportunity to share our plans and hear the views of representatives from all nine firms registered as local auditors with the ICAEW, three firms who are considering entering this market and the ICAEW.

We provided an overview of the contract terms including how remuneration will be calculated, the payment mechanism, and contract management arrangements including the proposed KPIs, together with a recap of the main points from the November webinar. We also confirmed our expected procurement and auditor appointment timescales throughout 2022.

Autumn/Winter free webinar series

We held the third webinar in our Autumn/Winter webinar series on 19 January. It focussed on ‘Audit Fees and Fee Variations’, which is an area of interest for our opted-in bodies and suppliers. We were delighted to welcome over 20 participants from a range of different bodies. The slides from this and our previous webinars are available to view on the PSAA website.

The final two webinars in the series are:

Wednesday 16 February 1-2pm: Understanding the 2022 audit services procurement strategy

Wednesday 16 March 1-2pm: Understanding our contract management arrangements

These webinars are mainly aimed at S151 Officers and Audit Committee Chairs, and are an opportunity to find out more about what we do. To register to attend, click on the individual webinar titles above, your joining instructions will follow.

PSAA Annual Audit Survey

As part of Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) Quality Monitoring and Reporting Framework we undertake an annual survey of opted-in bodies to obtain their feedback on their audits of accounts.

We really value the feedback you provide which provides a foundation to the discussions that we have with the supplier firms, DLUHC, NAO and others on the state and quality of local audit in England.

For independence and transparency we commission the LGA’s Research and Information Team to manage the survey process, which helps us to understand your views on the audit process in the areas of the usefulness of the audit process and outputs and opportunities for improvement.

This year’s survey will be issued on 7 February so please keep an eye out for the email that will contain a link to a short survey that should not take longer than ten minutes to complete.

We appreciate your time and input and would like to thank you all in advance for your participation. You can find details of past Annual Client Surveys on our website.

Local audit news from elsewhere including changes to the Appointing Person regulations

DLUHC publishes its package of measures to help address the delays in audit opinions

PSAA welcomes DLUHC’s package of measures, which recognises that there is no easy or quick solution to the current challenges, and that there needs to be a whole system approach to making progress. The document helpfully sets out measures that are being evaluated as well as those that are being taken.

ICAEW offers to help audit firms that may be interested in opportunities in the local government audit market

PSAA is keen to attract new audit suppliers including those looking to work alongside firms that are more experienced in this market.  Very helpfully, ICAEW is offering to assist firms to make contact with each other with a view to those firms exploring possible collaboration options. ICAEW has provided a summary of its role in relation to local audit and how it can help at Facilitation of local audit working arrangements between firms | ICAEW. Those interested are invited to contact [email protected]. PSAA is very supportive of ICAEW’s initiative, and we hope that it will encourage potential suppliers to explore the full range of bidding opportunities that we are making available.