The Executive Member for Environment and Finance & Governance and Director of Finance submitted a report for the Executive’s consideration. The purpose of the report was to provide the options available for future auditor appointment arrangements.
The current auditor appointment arrangements (the ‘National Scheme’) covered the period up to and including the audit of the 2022/23 accounts. The Council had opted into the ‘appointing person’ national scheme established by Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA) for the period covering the accounts for 2018/19 to 2022/23.
PSAA was now undertaking a procurement for the next appointing period, covering audits of the accounts for the financial years, 2023/24 to 2027/28. During autumn and winter 2021, all local government bodies needed to make important decisions about their external audit arrangements from 2023/24.
The Council had three options under the Audit & Accountability Act 2014. Those were:
· to appoint its own auditor, which required it to follow the procedures set out in the Act (see further information at paragraphs 6 to 9 of the submitted report);
· to work jointly with other authorities to procure an auditor to follow the procedures in the Act (see paragraphs 10 and 11); and
· to opt into the national auditor appointment scheme administered by a body designated by the Secretary of State as the ‘appointing person’. The body currently designated for the role was Public Sector Audit Appointments Limited (PSAA) (see paragraphs 12 and 13).
PSAA was now inviting the Council to opt in for the second appointing period for the National Scheme, from 2023/24 to 2027/28, along with all other eligible authorities. Based on the level of opt-ins it would then enter into contracts with appropriately qualified audit firms and appoint a suitable firm to be the Council’s auditor.
An assessment of the options available was contained at paragraphs 24 to 28 of the submitted report.
Regulation 19 of the Local Audit (Appointing Person) Regulations 2015 required that a decision to opt in to the national appointment scheme had to be made by a meeting of the Council. The Council then needed to respond formally to PSAA’s invitation in the form specified by PSAA by the close of the opt-in period (11 March 2022).
The submitted report had been discussed previously at the meeting of the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee on 8 December 2021, given their responsibility for the external audit function under the Constitution. There had been broad support from Members to participate in the PSAA national appointments scheme.
The other potential decisions were outlined in the ‘assessment of options’ section within the report with pros and cons highlighted of all three options. The opt-in to the National Auditor Appointments scheme had a number of significant benefits.
That the Council’s participation in the National Appointments Scheme, for the procurement and selection of external auditors from 1st April 2023, be endorsed.
The scheme delivered by PSAA was the most effective and efficient way of delivering local audit services to the Council, and to the appropriate level of quality required by the National Audit Office and the Financial Reporting Council, for the next five years from 1 April 2023.