Less than 50% of local authorities completed audits in 2020, NAO says

This reporting failure took place despite the deadline for audits being pushed back to 30 November 2020

The National Audit Office (NAO) has reported that less than half of local councils, local police and local fire bodies completed their audits for 2019-20.

This reporting failure occurred despite the deadline for audits being pushed back to 30 November 2020, to allow government bodies and businesses to take into account the impact of the pandemic.

In its report on the timeliness of local audit reporting in England, the NAO confirmed delays in completing audited accounts could have “significant implications for local accountability and the effective management of public money”.

Last year, the Ministry of Housing and Communities, and local government took action against the NAO’s reports in local authority audit reporting.

However, figures revealed a further drop in auditors delivering opinions in time for account publication deadlines, decreasing from 57% in 2018-19 to 45% in 2019-20.

In comparison, 87% of audits had been completed in 2017-2018.

In a statement, the NAO said: “These delays, alongside concerns about audit quality and doubts over audit firms’ willingness to continue to audit local public bodies, highlight that the situation needs urgent attention.”

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