ICAEW and CIPFA have issued a joint response to the Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd (PSAA) announcement of the outcome of its procurement of local audit services.

This reflects CIPFA and ICAEW’s shared view of the vital importance of local public audit in ensuring transparency and accountability for taxpayers.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “We are pleased that PSAA has been able to secure sufficient capacity to ensure all local government bodies that have opted into their scheme have an assigned auditor for the next appointment period. However, this procurement round underlines concerns about market stability. Urgent action is needed to ensure the market is robust and attractive. As a minimum, the government should implement the Redmond Review recommendations and bring forward the necessary legislation to formally establish ARGA as the system leader as soon as possible.”

ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza further added: “It is also vital that the system leader is clear on the handover processes for auditors leaving the market and how new suppliers will start new contracts where previous audits have been significantly delayed. The government should support auditors and finance teams to address the backlog of outstanding audits. We believe an increase in fees is necessary to support high quality and timely audits, especially in the context of the current challenges in the market and the increased regulatory requirements on auditors. However, a rise of over 150% will be difficult for local authorities, which are already under severe financial pressure. We would hope this increase in fees is reflected in future allocations of resources to local authorities.”

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