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UK: Local Government Financial Reporting is Improving
Source: publicfinance.co.uk
Source Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Country: Europe
Created: Dec 16, 2010

Local public bodies have improved the quality and timeliness of their financial reporting, according to the Audit Commission.

A report published today gives an overview of how well councils and other local bodies complied with accounting deadlines in 2009/10.

Overall, 94% of councils, 97% of police authorities, 97% of fire and rescue authorities and 81% of local government bodies published their accounts by September 30.

The audit opinion was issued by September 30 at 92% of councils and 80% of local government bodies and at all police and fire and rescue authorities.

Eleven bodies were singled out for praise for publishing audits accounts early. Audit Commission chief executive Eugene Sullivan said: ‘There is great interest in financial transparency by public bodies at the moment. Early publication of audited accounts is an important contribution to openness and accountability.’

He added: ‘It is pleasing to see that more audited bodies have achieved earlier publication. The majority of bodies are published their audited accounts by the statutory deadline, which is six months after the end of the financial year. This is significantly longer that other public sector bodies which are required to publish within three to four months. We think all bodies should be able to meet the current deadline.’

Seven councils (2% of the total) and 11 local government bodies (12% of the total) failed to publish audited accounts by October 31 this year. These councils included: Arun District Council; Cornwall Council; Hertfordshire County Council; Kingston upon Hull City Council; and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The remaining two councils have not been named as there were outstanding objections to the accounts, which prevented the auditor from issuing an opinion.

Two councils – Brentwood Borough Council and Northumberland Council – had their accounts qualified by the auditor.

The Audit Commission said it would continue to name bodies which have failed to published audited accounts by the end of October in its next report. It will also, for the first time, name larger internal drainage boards and larger town and parish councils. These smaller bodies have been exempt from naming because they have been managing the impact of a new accounting framework, the Financial Reporting Standard for Smaller Entities.

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