In Spring 2022, we will start to coordinate a network of citizen auditors.
The Local Audit and Accountability Act enables the public to inspect council accounts and residents to question the auditor as well as object to spending they believe is not in the public interest. We have made extensive use of these accountability rights in our work. However, we are far from the only ones using these rights – there are many more citizen auditors across the country scrutinising their councils’ spending.
Whether concerned residents or local journalists, we know that people using the public accountability rights often work in isolation. We want to bring together citizen auditors to share skills, support each other and find commonalities in the issues we are all working on. This is why in the coming year, we will start coordinating regular online meetings between citizen auditors.
We hope that this network will contribute to addressing the accountability vacuum in local government. Public accountability rights are obstructed by councils and their auditors and there is no overarching oversight. This is particularly concerning given the alarming state of local government finances, a result of not only the pandemic but the unprecedented funding cuts in the last decade that have seen central government funding practically removed. With significant uncertainty over the future of the local government sector, accountability is more important than ever. We believe the public should have a role in determining whether public funds are used in the public interest.