March 2022 news bulletin

Welcome to our latest e-bulletin, and the main item is that an increased number of eligible bodies deciding to take up our offer of making an audit appointment on their behalf. Also in this edition we provide an update on our annual client survey and developments relating to local audit, along with final webinar of our Autumn/Winter series.

Now that the opt-in period is complete we are pausing these bulletins to reflect on what is suitable for future communications. We would hugely appreciate your thoughts to help us decide, and so we are asking you to complete a short survey via a link in the item on communications.

Yours sincerely Tony Crawley, Chief Executive, PSAA

Content:

Conclusion of the opt-in invitation process for 2023/24 to 2027/28 audits

We are very pleased that 470 (99%) out of 475 eligible bodies have joined the national scheme for local auditor appointments for the next appointing period, which will cover the audits for financial years 2023/24 to 2027/28. In our view it makes particular sense for the sector to work together in a co-ordinated, collaborative scheme at a time when the local audit market is facing unprecedented challenges and risks affecting the supply of audit services and the delivery of timely audit opinions. The names of opted-in bodies are published on our website.

The procurement process to secure auditors for 2023/24 onwards is underway. We expect to announce the outcome in the Autumn.

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

 

Our latest webinar and have your say on how we communicate and engage with you

Our final Local Audit Quality Forum (LAQF) webinar of the Autumn/Winter series on Understanding our contract management arrangements took place on 16 March. We gave an overview of our current contract management arrangements and how we plan to evolve them for the audit contracts from April 2023.

Over the past eight months we have issued monthly e-bulletins and held five webinars to explain our work and aspects of the local audit system. We would like to continue to engage with you to provide updates, but we are conscious of the volume of information that is sent to you. To help us find the right balance for LAQF events and email communications we would ask you to complete a short survey which is designed to take less than five minutes (thank you if you have already completed the survey which we also included in our recent email outlining the next steps following the conclusion of the opt-in process).

 

PSAA Annual Audit Survey

Last month we reported that we had issued our annual survey to seek feedback from our opted-in bodies on their most recent audit. We issued the survey to finance directors and audit committee chairs as part of our Quality Monitoring and Reporting Framework. We commission the LGA’s Research and Information Team to manage the survey process to ensure independence and transparency.

The survey closed on 18 March, and the results are being analysed and will be published on our website.

This survey forms one strand of our audit service quality monitoring arrangements. We provide information from our quality monitoring arrangements throughout the year, publishing particular elements as they become available. We bring together the information from our survey, the results of professional regulation and contractual compliance into a summary report, and we will publish the one covering the 2019/20 financial year on the audit quality monitoring section of our website shortly.

 

Local audit news from elsewhere 

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has issued Revised guidance for recognising Key Audit Partners for local audit. The consultation proposed changes to the FRC’s statutory Guidance to the Recognised Supervisory Bodies (RSBs) on the accreditation of Key Audit Partners for local audit. The aim is to help to address the KAP capacity issue.

Our Advisory Panel of Treasurers’ Society members met on 23 February. In addition to the usual update and discussion on audit completion data and PSAA news, we presented and answered questions on the procurement, including the plans for assessing the quality of tenders, appointing auditors and managing the contracts. Sarah Sheen from CIPFA briefed the panel on the potential for time limited changes to the 2021/22 Code of Practice on Local Authority Accounting in the United Kingdom that CIPFA/LASAAC is exploring to help with improving the timeliness of local audit. The preliminary decision and feedback statement to this consultation was published on 17 March. News is awaited of the final outcome at the time of writing this bulletin.

The FRC has announced that Neil Harris is to become its first Director of Local Audit.

The ICAEW published ‘ICAEW concerned about delays to local audit consultation response’ highlighting some of the uncertainties facing potential bidders for our procurement.

CIPFA’s Sarah Sheen and ICAEW’s Oliver Simms wrote about how working in local audit brings substantial benefits, including the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives. Their article can be found in Public Finance (Material benefits: Working in local audit | Public Finance) and ICAEW Insights (The benefits of working in local audit | ICAEW).