All relevant authorities listed in schedule 2 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (the Act), whether they have opted in or not, are required to comply with Part 3 of the Act in relation to the appointment of local auditors.
Section 7 of the Act requires a relevant authority to appoint a local auditor to audit its accounts for a financial year not later than 31 December in the preceding financial year. For the 2023/24 accounts, a local auditor must have been appointed by 31 December 2022.
Eligible bodies that have chosen not to opt into the appointing person arrangements have two options for appointing their own auditor. These are to:
- undertake an individual auditor procurement and appointment exercise; or
- undertake a joint audit procurement and appointing exercise with other bodies.
Both these options require the body to consult and consider the advice of its Auditor Panel on the selection and appointment of a local auditor. Section 9 of the Act requires the establishment of an Auditor Panel, section 10 sets out the functions of an Auditor Panel, and schedule 4 sets out provisions applying to Auditor Panels. An Auditor Panel must consist of a majority of independent members (or wholly of independent members), and must be chaired by an independent member.
A guide to Auditor Panels for local government authorities was issued by CIPFA in 2017.
Within the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the auditor appointment is made, section 8 of the Act requires a body that has not opted into the national appointing person arrangements to publish a notice that:
- states that it has made the appointment;
- identifies the local auditor that has been appointed;
- specifies the period for which the local auditor has been appointed;
- sets out the advice, or a summary of the advice, of its Auditor Panel about the selection and appointment of a local auditor; and
- if it has not followed that advice, sets out the reasons why it has not done so.
The notice must be published on its website or in such manner as the body thinks is likely to bring the notice to the attention of service users.