FRC publishes report on the quality of major local audits amid delays in local government

News types: Inspection

Published: 8 December 2023

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has today published its annual report on the quality of major local audits, while highlighting its disappointment with the unacceptable delays in financial reporting and audit in the local government sector.

The report noted that with over 900 incomplete local government audits in England at the end of September 2023, the FRC's ability to inspect higher risk audits had been severely restricted.

The FRC inspected just 10 audits this year - 6 NHS and only 4 in local government - compared to its usual 20. With most local government audits incomplete, often for multiple years, the FRC said it had to significantly reduce inspections to allow audit firms to focus resources on clearing the backlog.

To support the measures being developed to clear the backlog, the FRC announced its plans to perform no routine inspections of local government audits for financial years up to 2022/23, unless clear public interest demands it. The FRC will resume inspections once the system has been reset, which hopefully will follow the implementation of the package of measures currently being developed by Government.

While the audits available for the FRC to inspect currently were found to be "good" or required “limited improvements”, the FRC warned its assessment of audit quality may reduce when it is able to inspect the audits of higher profile and higher risk local government bodies.

"It’s very disappointing that our ability to inspect higher profile and higher risk audits has been so severely restricted by the backlog.

"Timeliness is an important part of audit quality and as incoming shadow system leader, a key priority for the FRC has been supporting the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to develop their package of measures to clear the backlog and restore timely completion of audits.”

Sarah Rapson, FRC Executive Director of Supervision

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