Public inspection periods for local authority accounts

John Cross made this Freedom of Information request to Audit Commission

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Audit Commission.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to request information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 (No. 533) (13) state that:

"The auditor shall, for the purpose of the exercise of rights under section 15(2) and 16(1) of the 1998 Act, appoint a date on or after which those rights may be exercised, and shall notify the relevant body concerned, or in the case of a parish meeting the chairman of the meeting, of that date."

Please could you provide me a list of the dates of any inspection periods (falling between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2010) for the exercise of rights under the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 or similar legislation.

Yours faithfully,

John Cross

Leah Sparks,

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your enquiry to the Audit Commission.

Your request for information asks for a list of the dates of any
inspection periods falling between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2010.
We do not hold the information that you have requested. I am however
able to provide you with some information about inspection periods.

Each year the external auditor appointed by the Commission will, for
each body to which they have been appointed, set a date, usually in
agreement with the audited body concerned, in accordance with the
requirements of Regulation 13 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations
2003, as amended.

Section 16 of the Audit Commission Act 1998 ('the Act') confers rights
on persons interested to inspect the accounts which are to be audited
and all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating
to them and to make copies. The only restrictions on access to
information relate to personal information.

The audited body must publicise the date of the inspection period set by
the auditor. It does so by giving 14 days notice of the commencement of
a period of 20 working days during which the accounts can be inspected.

The period between the date appointed by the auditor and the date the
auditor signs the certificate of completion of the audit for that year
is when electors may question the auditor (the right in s15(2) of the
Act) and object to an item or items of account (the right in s16 (1) of
the Act).

There is no statutory formula for setting the appointed date, but it is
usually set so that all parties may discharge their statutory functions.
The latest date that bodies may approve their accounts is June 30 and
they are required to publicise their audited accounts before 30
September each year.

It is unlikely that auditors have already appointed dates for future
years. Information about the individual dates set for the current and
previous years should be easily available from the audited bodies
concerned. The Audit Commission does not hold a record of appointed
dates.

I hope that this response is helpful and I can confirm that the Audit
Commission has not withheld any information in respect of your request.
However, if you are unhappy with this response, you can submit a
complaint under the Audit Commission's Access to Information Complaints
Procedure, a copy of which is attached. I have also attached a copy of
our publication 'Council's Accounts: You Rights', which you may find
useful.

Kind regards

Leah

Leah Sparks
Senior Manager, Audit Regulation
Audit Policy and Practice

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Dear Leah Sparks,
Thank you for your email. According to the Auditors Directory [http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/about... the Audit Commission provides an auditor for a number of public authorities e.g. West Sussex County Council. In fact the Audit Commissions in house audit practice is the sixth largest audit practice in the UK according to the Commission's website.

I would be very surprised if the auditors from the Audit Commissions in house audit practice did not keep records of dates they had decided on for inspection periods for public authority accounts.

Please could you therefore provide the dates (as requested previously) in respect of these authorities.

Please acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

Leah Sparks,

Dear Mr Cross

Thank you for your email dated 18 July 2008.

It may help if I summarise the respective roles of the Audit Commission
and the auditors that it appoints. The Audit Commission's core statutory
duty in relation to audit is to appoint auditors and determine their
terms of appointment, as well as preparing a Code of Audit Practice,
which prescribes the way in which auditors carry out their functions.
The Audit Commission appoints auditors from private sector firms as well
as from its own in house audit practice. Once appointed, auditors carry
out their statutory and other responsibilities independently of the
Audit Commission.

In its regulatory role, the Audit Commission asks for specific
information to be provided to it by appointed auditors. One example is
the audit fee that the appointed auditor has charged for the annual
audit. The Audit Commission does not ask for appointed auditors to
provide it with the dates they have decided on for the inspection of a
council's accounts. Therefore, the Audit Commission does not have a
record of all the inspection periods that its appointed auditors have
set.

As mentioned in my previous email to you, information about the
individual dates set for the current and previous years should be easily
available from the audited bodies concerned. Appointed auditors will
also have this information and you may contact them individually using
the Directory of Audit Appointments, which you referred to in your email
on 18 July. However, appointed auditors are not covered by the Freedom
of Information Act and therefore are not required to disclose this
information. I suggest that your best course of action is to contact the
councils directly.

I would also like to re-iterate that it is unlikely that auditors will
have set dates for future years.

I hope that this response helps.

Regards

Leah

Leah Sparks
Senior Manager, Audit Regulation
Audit Policy and Practice
Audit Commission

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Dear Leah Sparks,
I am writing to request an internal review of the handling of my freedom of information request dated 8th July 2008.

I would like the review to cover all aspects of the way my request was handled but in particular I would like the following points to be considered:

(1) some of the auditors of local authorities are appointed by the Audit Commission and are also part of the Audit Commission's in-house audit practice

(2) The Audit and Accounts Regulations 2003 (13) states that: "The auditor shall, for the purpose of the exercise of rights under section 15(2) and 16(1) of the 1998 Act, appoint a date on or after which those rights may be exercised,..."

(3) these auditors would need to keep records of their correspondence in which they appoint the inspection period in order to demonstrate the fact that they have fulfilled their statutory duties.

(4) In the case of auditors working in the Audit Commission's in-house audit practice such records would be held by the Audit Commission.

(5) I requested dates of inspection periods from the Audit Commission on 8th July 2008.

(7) That where a public authority holds only part of the information requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 they are required to release that part (unless there is an exemption available).

(8) My correspondence on 18th July 2008

Yours sincerely,

John Cross

Diane Skinner,

Dear Mr Cross

I am responding to your email of 23 July 2008 requesting a review of the
way in which the Audit Commission has handled your request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act.

Your request was received on 8 July 2008 asking for:

"a list of the dates of any inspection periods (falling between 1 January
2007 and 31 December 2010) for the exercise of rights under the Accounts
and Audit Regulations 2003 or similar legislation."

We responded on 18 July 2008 and explained that the Commission does not
hold the information you requested and is not able to provide it to you.
We provided an explanation of the process for setting the date and also
included a copy of the Commission publication `Your Council: Your Rights'
which sets down the process in more detail. We also suggested that
information about individual dates set for the current and previous years
should be available from the audited bodies concerned.

You replied on 18 July:

"I would be very surprised if the auditors from the Audit Commission's
in-house audit practice did not keep records of dates they had decided on
for inspection periods for public authority accounts. Please could you
therefore provide the dates (as requested previously) in respect of those
authorities."

We responded on 23 July 2008, re-iterating that the Audit Commission does
not hold the information you have requested and provided a more detailed
explanation of the respective roles of the Audit Commission, in
discharging its statutory function to appoint auditors, and appointed
auditors themselves in carrying out their statutory duties.

The important point here is that, once appointed, auditors exercise their
statutory and other responsibilities in their own right, independently of
the Audit Commission, irrespective of whether they are from private sector
firms or from the Commission's in-house practice. This extends to the
information created by appointed auditors whilst carrying out their
statutory duties. Whilst the Audit Commission does ask for specific
information to be provided to it by appointed auditors much of the
information created and held by appointed auditors is not provided to the
Audit Commission.

You are correct in saying that appointed auditors will have information
relating to the inspection dates set for the audited bodies for which they
are responsible and you may contact them directly using the [1]Directory
of Audit Appointments available from the Audit Commission website.
However, appointed auditors are not subject to Freedom of Information and
would be under no obligation to make that information available.

Having reviewed our response I am satisfied that the Commission does not
hold the information you have requested and that we have provided
sufficient advice and assistance to help you find the information. I will
therefore close your request as of this date.

Diane Skinner
Information Policy Manager

Audit Commission
Business Information Services Directorate
Westward House
Lime Kiln Close
Stoke Gifford
Bristol BS34 8SR

Tel: 0844 798 6262
Fax: 0844 798 6270
[mobile number]
Email: [email address]

For Freedom of Information (FOI) requests please email
[2][Audit Commission request email]

Please think before you print this email

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Abdul Hai left an annotation ()

Here is a list of dates for public inspection periods for local authority accounts.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

Abdul Hai left an annotation ()

How do I object the appointment of an unsuitable auditor?

Abdul Hai left an annotation ()

Here is more information on this. http://www.thepeoplesaudit.info/