Greater transparency and value for money for council finance system
A new regulator, the Audit Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA), to be established as the system leader for local audit within a new, simplified local audit framework
- Consultation response published on plans to strengthen local audit framework in response to Redmond Review.
- New regulator, ARGA, will act as system leader for local audit, with shadow arrangements to start at the Financial Reporting Council in September.
- Proposals also include plans to make audit committees compulsory for all local councils, with an independent member required.
- Plans will support councils to level up communities across England.
Plans to ensure councils and local bodies are delivering value for money for taxpayers, strengthening council finances and reducing risk to public funds have been published by the government today (31 May 2022).
The government consultation response confirms plans to establish a new regulator, the Audit Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA), as the system leader for local audit within a new, simplified local audit framework.
Ahead of ARGA’s establishment, a shadow system leader arrangement will start at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) from September 2022. This will be led by Neil Harris, who joins as the FRC’s first Director of Local Audit to start up a dedicated local audit unit.
Local Government Minister Kemi Badenoch MP said:
"Over the last two years, councils have acted as a lifeline, providing vital support to businesses and communities.
"A robust system of local audit is key to maintaining public confidence in local government through assuring transparency and accountability.
"Today’s publication sees us take the first steps towards a more coordinated local audit system, as we get on with the job of spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of the country."
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been acting as interim system leader since July 2021, when it established and took the chair of the Liaison Committee of senior local audit stakeholders.
Work has already begun to address the challenges facing local audit with the government announcing a series of measures to improve local audit delays in December 2021.
The consultation response also announces plans to make audit committees compulsory for all councils, with each audit committee required to include at least one independent member. This will create greater transparency and consistency across local bodies.
The announcement comes as government today set out its wider plans to revamp the UK’s corporate reporting and audit regime through a new regulator, greater accountability for big business and by addressing the dominance of the Big Four audit firms.
The government continues to work closely with stakeholders, including local bodies and audit firms, to refine proposals for implementing our commitments around system leadership, as well the range of other commitments we have made in response to the Redmond Review.