Hope you are enjoying the Summer that has finally come! 

Below is some news from us and a very important update on the next event on audit reform – it has been rescheduled for the 29th of June, 10-11:30am. Apologies to those who had already booked. If you hadn’t yet, below is the link.




Audit and accountability failure in local government – where next for reform? 

Tuesday 29th of June 2021, 10-11:30am, zoom

With this roundtable of experts on audit and accountability, we aim to start a dialogue between stakeholders who are calling for improved audit in public and private sectors. 

Our latest report shows a serious lack of accountability in local government and reveals the significant role played by private auditors in disempowering residents. These weaknesses in current local government audit arrangements contribute to a deficit in oversight and failure to consider the public interest.

Despite wide-ranging action from residents on issues of significant public interest, auditors made no high court referrals and issued no public interest reports in any of the 83 cases we followed. These were mainly in England, where after the closure of the Audit Commission in 2015, local government auditors are private companies, including some of the Big Four.  

There is growing recognition for the need for audit reform in the private sector after audit failure has contributed to several high-profile bankruptcies in the 2000s. We want to raise awareness of public sector audit failure as well as work towards recommendations for reform across the blurred boundaries of public and private audit in a context where local government is increasingly outsourced and privatised. 


Emeritus Professor Prem Sikka, University of Essex

Professor Adam Leaver, University of Sheffield

Gillian Fawcett, Public Policy, Strategy and Finance Consultant

Simon Morrow, Lambeth People’s Audit



Media coverage of our Democracy Denied report

Our latest report, “Democracy Denied: Audit and accountability failure in local government” has received more media coverage since the latest newsletter. 

The Ferret in Scotland published a very comprehensive piece about our calls to ban private companies from local government audit, including problems with conflict of interest inherent to them. The article was written by Ian Fraser and Jamie Mann and can be read online.

The Private Eye also covered our report in issue #1547, writing about the false economy of austerity and abolishing the Audit Commission. The article is not online but People’s Audit has tweeted a screenshot.


Recordings of our previous events now online

In May, we hosted two events: on the 7th of May, a discussion on how to best use the accountability and information rights we have, with experts on FOI rights, citizen auditors, journalists and researchers in the room. On the 19th of May, we heard from experienced practitioners and talked about accountability in local government through the lens of participatory practices. 

We recorded both events, and the recording are now online:

7 May: Democracy denied – how do we hold local government accountable? 

19 May: Reimagining accountability in local government

Thank you to everyone who spoke and participated – we really enjoyed both events and hope you did too! Please watch and share the recordings, as they are a great resource.

Exercising public rights under the LAA Act

The public can inspect council accounts and residents can object to spending after draft accounts have been published, before they are approved by the auditor.

The time period for exercising the public rights usually begins in June in England and July in the other nations of the UK. However, this year authorities and their auditors have been given more time to complete the accounts, which means that the inspection and objection period might also be delayed. 

However, the updated legislation says that authorities must “publish (which must include publication on the authority’s website) as soon as reasonably practicable a notice stating that it has not been able to commence the period for the exercise of public rights and its reasons for this” – which means that if you can’t find the inspection notice on a council’s website, it is worth contacting them. 

New resource on debt audits by Eurodad

Our friends at Eurodad – which stands for the European network on debt and development – published a briefing on debt audits last week. 

It covers what is analysed under a debt audit, how to undertake the process, what difficulties can be expected, as well as previous examples and resources on debt audits. The focus is on national debts, which has traditionally been the subject of audits, especially official ones, and this briefing makes very interesting reading for those who want to know more about the global context of audits.