Local Authority Accounts and Audit (Amendment) Regulations 2021 – Light Touch Consultation

3 March 2021

Local Authority Chief Executives were recently invited to submit their comments in a light touch consultation on how to implement the recommendation made by Sir Tony Redmond’s review of the effectiveness of external audit and transparency of financial reporting in local authorities.

Views were sought on extending the deadline for publishing audited local authority accounts to 30 September from 31 July. In December last year, Ministers committed to amending the accounts publication deadline for 2 years, subject to review.

SLCC Chief Executive, Rob Smith has submitted the following response:

“The SLCC are not inclined to comment formally on the consultation because the proposed changes apply only to principal authorities rather than town and parish councils. In the normal run of events, we consider that the time scales and deadlines applicable for our sector are appropriate and realistic.

This year, however, is – to all intents and purposes – the same as last year in that the pandemic is having a significant impact on:

  • The availability of auditors
  • Their ability to attend and conduct audit
  • The ability of clerks and councils to go through their normal processes of approval and publication of the AGAR etc.

In this regard, our concern relates more directly to the extension of the ability to conduct meetings virtually. We have made strong representations on this matter elsewhere but feel that it is worth restating here. While it seems that as the year rolls on things might improve, the accounting/audit deadlines for town and parish councils are not realistic in 2021 unless the Covid-related deadline extensions from last year are reapplied and/or there is an extension to the ability of town and parish councils to hold virtual meetings.”