Protecting the public purse

Auditing the accounts

Audited accounts are the main way public bodies show accountability for managing public money. Publishing timely audited accounts is a fundamental feature of good governance.

The Audit Commission’s Auditing the Accounts reports summarise the results of auditors’ work on the financial statements at local public bodies. Every December the Commission reports on auditors’ work at councils, police bodies, fire and rescue authorities and local government bodies (principal local government bodies) and parish councils and internal drainage boards (small bodies).

In July 2013, the Commission published its first Auditing the Accounts report for NHS bodies, reporting the results of auditors’ work for 2012/13.

Auditing the Accounts 2012/13: Local government bodies

The Audit Commission’s Auditing the Accounts 2012/13: Local government bodies report summarises the results of auditors’ work for 2012/13 at principal local government bodies and small bodies. The report covers the timeliness and quality of financial reporting and summarises:

  • auditors’ work on the 2012/13 financial statements;
  • auditors’ work on the Whole of Government Accounts returns;
  • auditors’ local value for money work;
  • public interest reports and statutory recommendations issued by auditors since December 2012; and
  • the key financial reporting and financial management challenges facing bodies for 2013/14.

The Commission reports that auditors were able to issue the audit opinion by 30 September 2013 at 99 per cent of councils, all fire and rescue authorities, 97 per cent of police bodies, 98 per cent of other local government bodies and 98 per cent of both parish councils and internal drainage boards. This is consistent with last year for most groups, but an improvement for councils and small bodies compared to 2011/12.

Thirteen principal local government bodies received an unqualified audit opinion by 31 July 2012 and published their audited accounts promptly. At the date of preparing the report, one principal local government body had received a qualified audit opinion on the 2012/13 accounts. The overwhelming majority of small bodies (92 per cent of parish councils and 91 per cent of internal drainage boards) received an unqualified opinion on their 2012/13 annual return by 30 September.

To accompany the report, the Commission has published a list of the qualified 2012/13 opinions for small bodies. The list identifies those parish councils and internal drainage boards where auditors issued a qualified opinion on the 2012/13 annual return, and whether the opinion was also qualified in either of the previous two years. The list also provides an update on the 201 small bodies where the auditor had not issued an opinion on the 2012/13 annual return by 30 September 2013.

Downloads

Auditing the Accounts 2012/13: Local government bodies
Qualified and outstanding opinions for small bodies 2012/13

Auditing the Accounts 2012/13: NHS bodies

The Audit Commission’s Auditing the Accounts 2012/13: NHS bodies summarises the results of auditors’ work for 2012/13 at NHS bodies within the Commission’s audit regime. These bodies comprised NHS trusts, primary care trusts and strategic health authorities.

The report covers the timeliness and quality of financial reporting, auditors’ local value for money work, the extent to which auditors utilised their statutory reporting powers and the challenges facing NHS bodies for 2013/14.

The Commission reports that overall, NHS bodies maintained their level of performance on financial reporting for 2012/13. This is a significant achievement given the changes to the structure of the NHS that took place at the end of the 2012/13 financial year.

Almost all NHS bodies submitted their draft and final audited accounts to the Department of Health by the relevant deadlines and, to date, no NHS bodies have received a qualified accounts opinion. The level of adjustments made between the draft and final accounts was not significant which is an indicator of good quality draft accounts.

The majority of NHS bodies put in place proper arrangements for securing value for money. However, auditors at 26 per cent of NHS trusts issued a non-standard VFM conclusion related to concerns about financial resilience.

Download

Auditing the Accounts 2012/13 – NHS bodies (PDF document)

Auditing the Accounts 2011/12: Quality and timeliness of local public bodies’ financial reporting

The Audit Commission’s Auditing the Accounts 2011/12 report summarises the results of auditors’ work for 2011/12 at councils, fire and rescue authorities, police bodies, other local government bodies, parish councils and internal drainage boards.

To accompany the report, the Commission has published a list of the qualified 2011/12 opinions for small bodies. The list identifies those parish councils and internal drainage boards where auditors issued a qualified opinion on the 2011/12 annual return, and whether the opinion was also qualified in either of the previous two years.

Please note the report and accompanying list of small bodies with qualified opinions was updated after publication, in January 2013, as two parish councils, Dodderhill Parish Council and Wick Parish Council, and two internal drainage boards, Black Sluice IDB and Lindsey Marsh DB, were incorrectly identified as having received a qualified opinion on their 2011/12 annual return.

Downloads

Auditing the Accounts 2011/12 (PDF document)
Qualified opinions for small bodies (Excel document)

For earlier Auditing the Accounts reports, please see our archive.