In December 2015, Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited published its first report on the results of auditors’ work at local government bodies, covering the 2014/15 financial year. This is the second report and summarises the results of auditors’ work at 497 principal bodies and 9,756 small bodies for 2015/16. The report covers the timeliness and quality of financial reporting, auditors’ local value for money work, and the extent to which auditors used their statutory reporting powers.
The timeliness and quality of financial reporting for 2015/16, as reported by auditors, remained broadly consistent with the previous year for both principal and small bodies. The number of principal bodies that received an early unqualified audit opinion (by 31 July) doubled compared with 2014/15. In spite of the challenges they are facing, principal local government bodies are working hard to maintain high standards of financial reporting. The latest results of auditors’ work on the financial year to 31 March 2016 show a good position for the majority of organisations.
Auditors at 341 of 357 councils (96 per cent) were able to issue the opinion on the accounts by 30 September 2016. All police bodies, fire and rescue authorities and other local government bodies received their audit opinion by 30 September 2016. For the third year in a row there have been no qualified opinions on the accounts issued to date to principal bodies. The number of qualified conclusions on value for money arrangements increased slightly from 4 per cent to 6 per cent (27 councils, three police bodies, one fire and rescue authority and one other local government body).
For small bodies, auditors were able to issue their opinion on the annual return by 30 September 2016 at 97 per cent of parish councils and 98 per cent of internal drainage boards (IDBs). This is down from 99 per cent the previous year. The number of qualified opinions issued to parish councils remained consistent with the previous year at 14 per cent, but decreased for IDBs from 7 per cent to 4 per cent.
To accompany the report, PSAA has published a spreadsheet which includes:
- a list of the qualified 2015/16 opinions for parish councils;
- a list of the qualified 2015/16 opinions for IDBs;
- the position at 30 November 2016 for the 301 parish councils and two IDBs where an opinion on the annual return had not been issued by 30 September 2016; and
- the position at 30 November 2016 for the 58 parish councils and one IDB where no opinion had been issued on the 2014/15 annual return by 30 November 2015.