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.
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.
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.
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.
The timeliness and quality of NHS trusts’ financial reporting improved for 2013/14 according to the Commission’s report Auditing the Accounts 2013/14: NHS Bodies. In their first year, Clinical Commissioning Groups submitted their accounts on time but experienced some issues with quality. There is rising concern from the Commission’s appointed auditors for the financial resilience of NHS trusts, with a significant increase in the numbers of both qualified conclusions on value for money arrangements and statutory reports to the Secretary of State for Health.