Timely release of audited accounts is vital to public sector governance arrangements. Key stakeholders need the numbers for future budgeting and decision making. Mark Stocks and John Farrar share the findings of our report on the challenges in local audit.

Delays in publishing local government audited accounts have increased significantly and in December 2022 there were over 600 local audit opinions outstanding. This means that many stakeholders can't rely on audited accounts to inform decision making – a significant risk for governance and control.

Local authority accounts are becoming increasingly complex as accounting standards evolve and local authorities enter more and more innovative financing arrangements and income generation projects.

A significant challenge in managing local audits is the differing needs of various stakeholders. The local government sector, central government and regulators need to agree on the purpose of local audit and find a consensus on improving efficiency in publishing accounts

These delays are exacerbated by capacity constraints in both local auditors and local government. A new workforce strategy is being developed by the director of local audit at the Financial Reporting Council, but improving the attractiveness of a career in local audit and local authority accounting will require a lot of focus.

You can find more insight and guidance on the key challenges for local audit in our report:

  • Importance of audited accounts
  • Publication requirements and performance
  • Reports, reviews and inquiries
  • Exploring the causes of delay

For more insight and guidance get in touch with Mark Stocks.

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