Since 2018 PSAA has taken a number of initiatives to improve the operation of the scheme for the benefit of all parties including:
- proactively and constructively engaging with the numerous high-profile industry reviews, including the significant Redmond Review into Local Authority Financial Reporting and External Audit;
- commissioning an independent review undertaken by Cardiff Business School of the design and implementation of our appointing person role to help shape our thinking about future arrangements;
- commissioning an independent review by consultancy firm Touchstone Renard of the sustainability of the local government audit market, which identified a number of distinctive challenges in the current local audit market. We published the report to inform debate and support ongoing work to strengthen the system and help to deliver long term sustainability;
- working with MHCLG to identify ways to address concerns about fees by developing a new approach to fee variations which would seek wherever possible to determine additional fees at a national level where changes in audit work apply to all or most opted-in bodies;
- the establishment of a Local Audit Quality Forum, which is free of charge to opted-in bodies and has to date held five well attended events on relevant topics;
- using our advisory panel and attending meetings of the various Treasurers’ Societies and S151 officer meetings to share updates on our work, discuss audit-related developments, and listen to feedback;
- maintaining contact with those registered audit firms that are not currently contracted with us, to build relationships and understand their thinking on working within the local audit market;
- undertaking research to enable a better understanding of the outcomes of electors’ objections and statements of reasons issued since our establishment in April 2015; and
- sharing our experiences with and learning from other organisations that commission local audit services such as Audit Scotland, the NAO, and Crown Commercial Services.
Importantly, we are also currently working closely with a range of local audit stakeholders including MHCLG, FRC, NAO, and the LGA to help identify and develop further initiatives to strengthen the local audit.
In many cases desirable improvements are not within PSAA’s sole gift and accordingly, it is essential that this work is undertaken collaboratively with a common aim to ensure that local government continues to be served by an audit market which is able to meet the sector’s needs and which is attractive to a range of well-equipped suppliers.