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Annual Return Errors Costing Councils Money

Published 28th March 2019

The Chairman of the body procuring external auditors for local councils in England has expressed concern that more councils than previously are not responding to audit return requests or are making other errors which are costing councils a substantial amount of money.   Michael Attenborough-Cox, Chairman of SAAA Ltd, has said that, in respect of the Annual Governance and Audit Return (AGAR) for 2017/18, there were a substantial number of non responders and statutory deadlines were missed resulting in a significant number of statutory recommendations and public interest reports being issued; far greater than in previous years.  The costs to local councils has also been significant as a result of non compliance.

To ensure greater compliance for the 2018/19 AGAR, SLCC urges all members to comply with the following advice of SAAA Ltd:
  1. Clerks/RFO’s should read the instructions and guidance provided by their auditors and in the AGAR before attempting to complete the appropriate form.
  2. Completed forms MUST be returned to the auditor by the statutory deadline, 30 June, either by email or post NOT BOTH. Failure to comply will result in authorities being faced with additional costs.
  3. If an authority fails to respond to the auditor’s reminder letters, the auditor is likely to issue a Public Interest Report, the minimum cost being £200 plus VAT and the authority will be required to have a limited assurance review the following year with a minimum cost of £200 plus VAT
  4. Authorities must inform their auditor of a change of contact details of the Clerk/RFO and Chairman.
  5. Authorities should be able to be contacted through generic email addresses.
PKF Littlejohn, the company awarded the majority of external audits has kindly shared the following note of common misunderstandings encountered previously and their consequences which SLCC commends to its members. Click here to view the note.

For those who are concerned about the coming AGAR for 2018/19, we have arranged a special webinar for next Tuesday 9th April at 10.30am.

To register for this important one hour course and ensure that your return is compliant, book your place here


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