Headlines: November 4th, 2009

Health organisations and probation boards are to pay less for the audits carried out by the government’s spending watchdog. Meanwhile the inspection fee paid by local authorities will be pegged at their 2009-10 levels.

The Audit Commission has announced, however, that scales for councils, fire authorities and the police will rise by six per cent to pay for additional work arising from the transition to new International Financial Reporting Standards, although the Commission will subsidise the one-off costs arising from this move.

The new scales for audit and inspection fees for 2010-11 and indicative fee proposals for the following two years have been published after eight weeks of consultation during which the Commission spoke to 886 audited and inspected bodies and others. The documents are available at http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/fees2010

Commission Chief Executive Steve Bundred said: “It’s good to be able to announce that for many organisations audit costs will go down next year, and costs won’t increase for most bodies. I’m sure that will be welcome with the financial squeeze ahead. The new fees scales reflect views from the consultation.”

During the consultation many organisations said the Commission should freeze or reduce audit and inspection fees. The Commission has also pointed out that audit costs are a tiny fraction of what public bodies spend and on average represent less than 0.05 per cent of their overall spending. Inspection fees account for 0.005 per cent of councils’ spending.