Time for a ‘grown-up’ chat about audit

By Chris Buss | 09 January 2020

As a former local government treasurer, I have been surprised by the failure to complete audits by 31 July last year. I may have expected it in 2018, due to the tighter closing period, but why in year two? Why is London apparently in a worse position than elsewhere in the country? Rumour has it that two firms failed to complete a single audit by the deadline – with one only completing 30% of the task, and the best only 60%.

What can possibly have changed in a year? Well let’s look at what goes into the mix. In most instances council teams produce accounts like a well-oiled machine, using techniques, accounting policies and working papers that traditionally pass muster. The auditors historically have done their job with little difficulty unless there was a particularly tricky objection. Finance teams haven’t changed. The accounting landscape has changed a little (with IFRS 9 and 15 catching a few people out) but not enough to explain this dramatic shift in performance. So what else has happened?

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