Public exercise of inspection and objection rights under Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014

Megan I Waugh made this Freedom of Information request to Epping Forest District Council as part of a batch sent to 341 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear Epping Forest District Council,

The Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 provides members of the public with rights to inspect, within an annual inspection window, the council’s accounts and related documents. It also provides local electors with the right to object to an item of the accounts. Prior to the 2014 Act these same rights were enshrined in the Audit Commission Act 1998.

As a regular user of these rights, in my capacity as a local journalist, local elector, member of accountability campaigns and academic researcher I am interested in understanding the frequency and the way in which these rights are being used across the country.

The MHCLG have recently launched an independent inquiry into the quality of local authority audit (the Redmond Review). One of the questions in the recent call for views asks whether the “the inspection and objection regime allow local residents to hold their council to account in an effective manner?” whilst also acknowledging that data is not currently gathered at a national level on the citizen uses of these rights. I feel there is therefore a strong public interest in the timely disclosure of the information in this request.

Please provide the following information:

A. For all the objections you received between 2009 and 2019 (i.e. relating to financial years 2008/9 to 2018/19 inclusive) please provide the following information in an excel spreadsheet. Please use the list below as column headers and compile the data for each objection in a separate row.

1. Objection reference no.
2. Financial year the objection relates to
3. Subject/summary of the objection
4. Date objection was received
5. Did objector ask the auditor make a referral to the High Court?
6. Did objector ask the auditor to issue a Public Interest Report?
7. Was the objection accepted as valid?
8. If not, why?
9. Was a public interest report issued?
10. Was a referral made to the High Court?
11. If so, what was the High Court’s decision?
12. Were any other recommendations made or actions taken by the auditor under the powers set out in Section 24 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act?
13. Date objector was sent a final decision notice
14. How much was the council charged by the auditor to carry out work in relation to the objection?

B. For all the inspection requests you received between 2009 and 2019 (i.e. relating to financial years from 2008/9 to 2018/19 inclusive), please provide the following information in an excel spreadsheet. Please use the list below as column headers and compile the data for each inspection request in a separate row.

1. Inspection reference number
2. Financial year inspection request refers to
3. Date request for information received
4. Was the request accepted as valid?
5. If not, why?
6. Was request transferred to FOI?
7. If transferred to FOI, what was the justification for doing so?
8. Subject/summary of request as recorded
9. Which department(s) dealt with the information request?
10. Date the response and documents requested were sent to requester

Yours faithfully,

Megan I Waugh

Stephen Tautz, Epping Forest District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Megan Waugh,

Freedom of Information Request Ref:932

I refer to your recent request for information about the Local Audit and
Accountability Act 2014, which was received by the Council on 25 September
2019.

Your request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be responded to within twenty working days
of the date of its receipt by the Council.

If you have any queries about your freedom of information request, do not
hesitate to contact me. Please quote the reference number above in any
further communication concerning your request.

Yours faithfully,

S. Tautz

Freedom of Information Officer

Epping Forest District Council
Civic Offices,
High Street,
Epping,
Essex, CM16 4BZ

(01992) 564180

Stephen Tautz, Epping Forest District Council

2 Attachments

Dear Megan Waugh,

Freedom of Information Request Ref: 932

I refer to your recent request for information about the Local Audit and
Accountability Act 2014. The Council's response to your request is
attached.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright.
You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study
and non-commercial research, and for any other purpose authorised by an
exception in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs) can be
also used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of news
reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would
require the permission of the copyright holder.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your freedom of information
request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review
requests should be submitted within two months of the date of your receipt
of this response to your request and should be addressed to: R. Pavey
(Service Director (Customer Services)), Epping Forest District Council,
Civic Offices, Epping, Essex, CM16 4BZ.

Please quote the reference number above in any further communication
concerning your freedom of information request.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of an internal review, you have
the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner in
connection with the Council’s handling of your request. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours faithfully,

S. Tautz

Freedom of Information Officer

Epping Forest District Council
Civic Offices,
High Street,
Epping,
Essex, CM16 4BZ

(01992) 564180

Dear Stephen Tautz,

Thank you for your prompt response. I notice on the attached document that you have provided the same response to parts A and B of my request, stating that "Epping Forest District Council received no objection to its accounts during the financial years 2008/9 to 2018/19, pursuant to the Audit Commission Act 1998 and the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014" However Section B refers to the rights to inspect the council's accounts and any related documents during the annual inspection period. Can you just clarify that there have been no such requests during the timeframe specified in the request?

Many thanks

Yours sincerely,

Megan I Waugh

Stephen Tautz, Epping Forest District Council

2 Attachments

Dear Madam,

 

Apologies for the oversight.

 

Please find attached a corrected version of the Council’s response to your
freedom of information request.

 

S. Tautz

Freedom of Information Officer

 

Epping Forest District Council,

Civic Offices,

High Street,

Epping,

Essex, CM16 4BZ.

 

( (01992) 564180

* [1][email address]

8  [2]www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk

 

[3]LT2 2COL

 

From: Megan I Waugh [mailto:[FOI #607241 email]]
Sent: 01 October 2019 21:47
To: Stephen Tautz <[email address]>
Subject: Re: Response Letter

 

CAUTION: This Message originated outside of Epping Forest District
Council. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognise the
sender and know the contents is safe.

Dear Stephen Tautz,

Thank you for your prompt response. I notice on the attached document that
you have provided the same response to parts A and B of my request,
stating that "Epping Forest District Council received no objection to its
accounts during the financial years 2008/9 to 2018/19, pursuant to the
Audit Commission Act 1998 and the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014"
However Section B refers to the rights to inspect the council's accounts
and any related documents during the annual inspection period. Can you
just clarify that there have been no such requests during the timeframe
specified in the request?

Many thanks

Yours sincerely,

Megan I Waugh

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