Protecting the public purse

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Council tax and business rates exceed targets, despite £4.55 billion uncollected

The Audit Commission has published Council tax and business rates collection: an update (November 2014), using publicly available data from its Value for Money (VFM) Profiles Tool. The update to two previous briefings, examining English councils’ collection rates and costs of collecting council tax and business rates, reveals that £4.55 billion remained unpaid at the end of March 2014, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year. The uncollected £4.55 billion is equivalent to the cost of building close to 300 secondary schools.

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Highest value of fraud detected by Councils since Audit Commission turned the spotlight on 25 years ago

Fraud valued at £188 million was detected by England’s councils in 2013/14, a ten-fold increase since 1990. The figure beats all records for the past 25 years, the Audit Commission revealed in its latest report on fraud in local government.

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Audit fees at a 25 year low as part of Audit Commission’s legacy

The Audit Commission is reducing audit fees for local public bodies by £30 million from 2015 to 2017, taking total fees to the lowest level since the Commission took on NHS audit in 1990. The announcement came as the Commission launched its final consultation on work programme and scales of audit fees. These relate to the 2015/16 financial year. The fees will reduce by 25 per cent, following the Commission’s successful retendering in March 2014 of the work done under its older contracts. The latest reduction is in addition to the 40 per cent drop in fees made by the Commission in 2012.

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Audit Commission invites local government to help armchair auditors interpret the accounts

The Commission has today published Interpreting the Accounts: A Review of Local Government Financial Ratios 2007/08 to 2012/13, describing changes in the ratios for English councils during a period of considerable change for local government finance, and is calling on local government to compile its own financial ratios data for comparison after the Commission closes in March 2015.

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12 per cent more children in council care at an overall cost of £3.4 billion

The number of children in the care of councils in England rose by 7,210 (12 per cent) over a four year period ending on 31 March 2013. 68,110 children were in care on this date, including 42,228 in care as a result of abuse or neglect. Councils in England spent a total of £3.4 billion caring for these vulnerable young people, who represent 0.6 per cent of all children in England under the age of 18.

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